London City Airport’s Master Plan, released on 28 June, proposes to double the number of flights each year. Steve Wilks looks at the effects of the new proposals on Wanstead and its environs
With an increasingly global and networked world, travelling in our jobs is becoming more commonplace. At London City Airport, in the last five years, its passenger numbers have grown by 40%, hitting 4.8 million in 2018. It expects demand to rise to 11 million by 2035, but its current capacity is limited to 6.5 million passengers, according to the London Borough of Newham.
London City CEO Robert Sinclair has stated the airport does not plan to build a new runway, extend the length of it or expand beyond its current site boundary. The airport wants to emphasise that it will focus on sustainability while expanding and using fuel-efficient aircraft and making its grounds operations carbon neutral.
The airport has tabled a Draft Master Plan 2020–2035 – it proposes to double the number of flights from 75k to 151k by 2035. It is also looking to relax a restriction that sees it close between 1pm on Saturdays and 12.30pm on Sundays, as well as an eight-hour overnight curfew and greater flexibility in its operations in the first and last 30 minutes of weekdays, meaning more early morning and late evening flights. A feedback form has been released for public comment until 20 September.
With this in mind, the plans are likely to face some opposition from environmental groups and neighbouring residents in the outer boroughs. John Stewart, chair of campaign group Hacan East, has warned that “flight numbers could almost double from today’s total.” Local communities will be concerned about the huge increase in the number of planes proposed and in the early hours of the morning and late at night when many people find aircraft most intrusive. Even the safeguards the airport will put in place to reduce noise will have only a marginal effect by 2035. There are also the increased environmental effects – a 2010 MIT study suggests you are more likely to die from exposure to toxic sulphur dioxide pollutants from plane exhausts than in a plane crash.
There is also very limited consultation by the airport – no consultation events are being held in some of the most heavily overflown boroughs, like Redbridge. This risks ignoring a significant proportion of residents who will be most affected by the proposals and this does not bode well for transparency in its dealings with key stakeholders.
While we have to accept the commercial realities of business, and the fact people need to travel, it is essential trips are only made if they are necessary. Technology now allows us to have conference calls online, thus enabling people from different locations around the world to connect. This surely must be cheaper for companies to invest in and less disruptive to employees and their lifestyles.