City Airport’s Master Plan runs into turbulence

Sunset over the airport  Pic: London City Airport  

London City Airport’s proposed £480m development programme continues. The development will see eight new aircraft stands equal to the size of 11 football pitches being built, the creation of the UK’s first Digital Air Traffic Control Tower, a full length parallel taxiway and the easterly and westerly extensions of the terminal, quadrupling its size.

However not everyone is happy with the proposed Master Plan. Tower Hamlets councilors unanimously opposed the plan and the majority of Tower Hamlets residents, that responded to the public consultation  are saying they are also against the plan, according to campaigners.

The council has formally responded to City Airport’s consultation setting out its objections.

Currently, the airport has a limit of 111,000 flights per year but wants to increase that number to 151,000 by 2035. This would be an increase of 36%, which equates to 110 additional flights per day.

Future development    Pic: London City Airport

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “The negative impacts of increasing flights at LCA would be unacceptable in terms of increasing noise levels and exacerbating climate change.

“While I recognise that the airport has brought benefits to Tower Hamlets it is not currently using its permitted number of flights so there is not a capacity issue. This plan aims to shift the business model from business to leisure.

“Tower Hamlets was one of the first councils to recognise that we are living in a climate emergency. I would like to see further commitments by the airport on its plans to limit the amount of emissions resulting from its operations.”

The council is concerned that the current plan relies on future technological improvements to reduce aircraft noise and emissions, but until these come in residents could face years of disruption and negative impacts on their health. Tower Hamlets already has the fifth worst air quality of any London borough.  Extra emissions from flights could exacerbate this problem.

HACAN East official launched its campaign against the Master Plan in July 2019 with the release of thousands of postcards which give residents the opportunity to oppose the plan, these were distributed to households impacted by the expansion.

A large number of Tower Hamlets residents have also rejected the plan. Up to 85% of an estimated 5,800 (4,900) responses to the London City Airport Draft Master Plan have rejected their future growth plans, according to campaigners.

The airport expansion is due to be completed in 2022.

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