London City Airport
The consultation on the airport’s plans for the future ends next month

Greenwich Council has expressed its concern over London City Airport’s plans to scrap curbs on weekend flights.

The Royal Docks airport wants to be allowed to handle an extra 40,000 flights per year on top of its current limit of 111,000, a figure it says it will reach in 2022.

At present, no flights are allowed between 12.30pm on Saturdays to 12.30pm on Sundays, with restrictions on early morning and late evening flights at other times.

But the plans call for “flexibility” at those times, including between 6.30am and 7am, when only six flights are currently allowed, and 10pm and 10.30pm, when just 400 flights per year are allowed.

“We believe that the adjustments [to flights] would help accelerate airlines’ plans to invest in more of the quieter, cleaner, new generation aircraft,” the airport says in its draft masterplan, which is open for consultation until 20 September.

Noise from takeoffs and landings can often be heard in the north of Greenwich borough, and many flights come take off or land over Thamesmead and Belvedere. But since “concentrated flight paths” were introduced in 2016, many incoming flights follow the same route over Sidcup, Eltham, Catford, Forest Hill, Dulwich and Herne Hill before turning over Brixton, Stockwell and the Oval to head back towards the airport.

On part of this route, City Airport planes are joined by Heathrow traffic following the same path but at a higher level – increasing the noise heard on the ground.

Only one public consultation event has been held by City Airport south of the river – in Thamesmead on 9 July. Other events are planned for the City of London, Mile End and Royal Docks next week.

‘More noise, more planes’

Pressure group Hacan East is leading opposition to the proposal. Its chair, John Stewart, said: “These expansion proposals would double the number of City Airport planes which fly over south London at present. More noise from more planes and, of course, more climate change emissions.”

Greenwich Council’s cabinet member for air quality, public realm and transport, Denise Scott-McDonald, told 853: “The council has been considering our response to the draft masterplan proposed by London City Airport and we encourage residents to respond to their consultation. As well as receiving representations from residents, City Airport held the first of their public engagement meetings in Broadwater Village Hall, Thamesmead, on Tuesday 9 July.

“Whilst some positive proposals have been made like the maintenance of an eight-hour [overnight] curfew on flights, the level of growth proposed by the airport would increase the impact the airport has on residents in Greenwich. Particularly, we strongly object to their plans for flexibility on the current time restrictions applied to flights, as this will affect the quality of life of residents. As flight paths change and growth continues, a further conversation is needed about how airport expansion will not have a detrimental impact on residents in our borough. We have seen an increase in complaints from residents south of the borough about noise from planes on approach to the airport, and we would like City Airport to model the impact of their proposed increases on residents underneath flight paths.

“We have recognised our role in responding to the challenges that climate change and air pollution present and we declared a climate emergency in April 2019 – in line with this, we would like to see a more appropriate commitment from City Airport to reducing emissions. We will be providing a formal response to the consultation so there is more recognition of the airport’s impact on its neighbours. We will also voice our concerns at the next London City Airport Consultative Committee meeting.”

Lewisham opposition

Neighbouring Lewisham Council has declared its outright opposition to the masterplan. Sophie McGeevor and Brenda Dacres, the cabinet members for environment and transport, have written to the airport’s chief executive, Robert Sinclair, accusing him of presenting expansion as “an inevitable matter of fact”.

“We believe that any expansion of the airport will have a detrimental impact on Londoners through increased noise and air pollution, and the warming planet by increasing the number of planes and therefore carbon emissions,” the two councillors – who share the cabinet position – said.

“We want you to make a strong commitment to addressing the impact of noise pollution on the people of Lewisham.”

Across the river in Newham, the borough’s elected mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, called the consultation “fundamentally flawed” because of a lack of information and asked for it to be halted. London City Airport responded by releasing more information and extending the consultation’s end date by four weeks.

Redbridge plans to host a public meeting about the expansion, while opposition Labour councillors in Bexley helped organise a meeting in Belvedere which took place on Tuesday.

London City Airport did not respond to a request for comment from 853. Residents can read the draft masterplan on the London City Airport website and respond by 18 October.

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