Disappointment as airport expansion approved

Thousands more planes will now fly over Leyton and Leytonstone

Crane plane

A plane flying over Waltham Forest

Both campaigners and the council reacted with anger and disappointment after London City Airport’s expansion was approved by government – ensuring thousands more planes a year will fly over Waltham Forest.

A local anti-aviation campaigner described the government’s decision to allow expansion as “madness” while Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet member for environment said the airport’s treatment of local residents was “an absolute disgrace”.

London City Airport is situated four miles south of the borough and one of its major flightpaths for take-offs and landings goes directly over Leyton and Leytonstone. A public inquiry was held this year to examine its £200million expansion plan, which would allow annual flight numbers to rise from around 85,000 currently, to 111,000 after expansion – a 30 percent increase and an average of 71 extra flights per day.

The inquiry’s government-appointed planning inspector, Martin Whitehead, said in his final report that the chief adverse impact from the airport’s expansion would be noise pollution, but said a noise insulation scheme for affected residents “seems to be more generous than that currently offered at any other UK airport”.

He concluded: “The significant socioeconomic and employment benefits that would result from the proposal would outweigh the harm that I have identified.”

Mark Dawes, a Leytonstone resident and anti-aviation campaigner with a local branch of the Green Party, said the decision was “terrible news” for local people. “City Airport is already making residents of Leyton, Leytonstone and Wanstead’s lives a misery with the excessive noise pollution of its air traffic.

“The decision earlier this year to introduce concentrated flight paths over this area has already increased the noise, and expansion will only make this worse.

“It is madness to site a major airport in the heart of a city. It is also crazy that the UK is continuing airport expansion at a time when climate change is the most serious issue facing us.”

The previous mayor of London, Boris Johnson, threw out plans for the airport’s expansion in March 2015. But London City Airport appealed to the government, prompting this year’s public inquiry which recommended to ministers it be approved.

The decision means work can now begin on constructing new aircraft parking stands, a parallel taxiway, and extension to London City Airport’s terminal building.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Waltham Forest Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “This is an incredibly disappointing decision and a real kick in the teeth for Waltham Forest residents.

“We are already the third most overflown borough in London, and the increase of flights at City Airport will bring yet more daily misery to our residents.”

Last autumn the council conducted a survey of residents on the impact that aircraft noise had on their daily lives: 81 per cent of responders said they were already disturbed by current levels of aircraft noise, 78 per cent said their hearing or listening was disturbed, and 73 per cent said their sleep was disturbed.

Councillor Loakes urged the airport’s operators to communicate better with residents in future and added: “It’s a real shame their views have been completely ignored.”

Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer, who also objected to the airport’s expansion, said: “My constituents are already suffering considerable noise and air pollution from over-flying planes. It is quite unacceptable that an airport in one of our most built-up urban areas could now become the ninth or tenth busiest in the country in terms of passenger numbers.”

In a Waltham Forest Echo Twitter poll answered by 58 people, 17 percent said they were ‘happy’ with the expansion of London City Airport, 38 percent ‘unhappy’ and 45 percent ‘not fussed’.

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