Controversial plans to increase City Airport flights over east London

Plans to increase weekend and early morning flights from London City Airport will mean more noise over residents’ homes, campaigners warn.

City Airport is currently consulting east Londoners on proposals to move the 1pm cut-off for Saturday flights to 10pm.

It is also hoping to increase the number of early-morning flights allowed on weekdays and add “more flexibility” to the cap on the number of delayed flights allowed to land between 10pm and 10:30pm on weekdays.

The airport’s plans to increase the yearly passenger limit from 6.5million to 9million hinge on new aircraft models, which it promises are larger and “quieter”.

But John Stewart, chair of HACAN East, warned the aircraft are only quieter during take off because they take off at a steeper angle, benefiting residents living within about four miles of the runway

He argued that the new models are only six per cent quieter for residents outside of the take-off area.

He said: “They’ve been a bit disingenuous by selling these planes as quieter, it doesn’t mean that most people will hear them any less.”

City Airport’s spokesperson has refused to provide flight paths that show which neighbourhoods will be worst affected, arguing potential changes to flight paths are subject to a “separate process”.

However, Stewart claims areas most affected by the changes in flight times would be Leyton, Leytonstone, Wanstead, Barkingside, Romford, Bow and Poplar.

If there is an east wind, which is less common, flights instead travel over Barking & Dagenham and parts of Havering.

Leytonstone resident Geoff Marshall, who lives under City Airport’s flight path called the proposals “horrendous”

He added: It’s exactly what we don’t want… we won’t get any breaks whatsoever.

“It would be a tiny benefit for people living round the airport but none for anyone else. If they fly during respite time then it’ll be even worse. It’s just the wrong place for an airport of that kind.”

The exact proposals City Airport is consulting on include doubling the number of permitted flights on weekdays, between 6:30am and 6:59, to 12.

The proposals do not specify how much “flexibility” planners wish to add to the limit on delayed flights that can land in the half hour after the end of operations, which is currently capped at 400.

The airport’s spokesperson has emphasised that they are not seeking to increase the 111,000 annual fight cap or change its existing eight-hour curfew.

Nor would the proposals affect Sunday flights, which are limited to between 12:30pm and 10:30pm.

The airport’s in-person public consultation meetings held so far have been criticised for being held on weekdays, ending at 7:30pm in locations far from City Airport’s regular flight paths.

Waltham Forest’s deputy leader Clyde Loakes said increased flights will have a “detrimental impact” on residents in the south of the borough “whether from a climate, air quality, noise or amenity point of view”.

He added: “I suspect that is why London City Airport chose to have its sole Waltham Forest consultation event in a difficult-to-reach part of Walthamstow, despite my offer of help to find a location closer to the communities who are most impacted and whose concerns most need to be heard by London City Airport.”

City Airport’s spokesperson claimed the consultation events were “widely promoted in local papers” through 11 full-page ads but declined to confirm what dates the adverts appeared in those papers.

Anybody wishing to give their views on the proposals can comment through the website, which features nine multiple choice questions and one open question asking for “any other comments”.

To view the proposals in detail, visit: https://consultation.londoncityairport.com/

The Greater London Authority has confirmed that Newham will be required to consult it as part of any planning application that increases passengers by more than 500,000 a year.

Redbridge Council has declined to comment.

Newham, Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Tower Hamlets did not respond to a request for comment.

City Airport have not published a map of their flight paths, but HACAN East produced an animation to show flights from Heathrow (blue) and City Airport (red)
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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter