Newham’s two Green councillors joined local residents to protest ahead of the planning hearing. Credit: Ann-Marie Ashton

London City Airport to appeal Newham Council expansion refusal

London City Airport is planning to appeal after Newham Council rejected its expansion bid last week. 

Council planning officers decided that the proposal to increase passenger numbers and introduce Saturday afternoon flights would cause too great a disruption to residents’ quiet time. 

The majority of the 1,644 objections the council received mentioned carbon emissions and climate, with Newham Green Party protesting ahead of the planning hearing and one activist launching a two week hunger strike outside the airport.

However, the recommendation to refuse was based on noise pollution concerns, as the planning commission is not the authority on carbon emissions from flights. 

Nate Higgins, Green councillor for Stratford Olympic Park said: “It’s not a planning matter but the emissions are also important.

“In a climate emergency, airport expansion of any kind is not appropriate when we should be encouraging people to find alternative means of travel.”

City Airport has confirmed it will appeal the council’s decision, arguing that by requiring new cleaner, quieter planes for the Saturday afternoon flights, the expansion would encourage airlines to re-fleet. 

The airport is not proposing to exceed the current permitted number of flights, but to increase passenger numbers by scheduling flights at times of high demand, raising the cap from 6.5m to 9m. 

Over the last few years, local council decisions blocking the expansion of both Bristol Airport and Stansted Airport due to climate concerns have been overturned on appeal. 

London City Airport is in the Royal Docks in Newham, a densely populated residential area. Credit: “London City Airport at sunset” by James E. Petts is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

If City Airport’s appeal is successful, the decision would put an end to a 25-year curfew prohibiting flights between 12:30pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday. 

Councillors from nine nearby boroughs, including Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, objected to the proposal to allow flights until 6:30pm or 7:30pm on Saturday evenings.

In a report released in June, the Climate Change Committee, which advises the government on emissions targets, said there should be no airport expansion in the UK until a framework is developed to manage it.

City Airport committed to creating a £2m sustainable travel fund to support local transport projects, and predicted that the entire proposal would create 1340 jobs by 2031.

A spokesperson for Newham Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the plans will now be referred to the Greater London Authority.

Featured image credit: Ann-Marie Ashton

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