On the 1st of December, I chaired a meeting of the London Assembly Environment Committee which met with representatives from City Airport including its Chief Executive, Richard Gooding. The main topic for discussion was the planning consent by Newham Council which permits them to increase flight numbers from 80,000 per year to 120,000. We also got the chance to discuss issues such as air quality, noise and the additional measures which City Airport have had to put into place in order to comply with the council’s section 106 agreement (conditions for the planning consent). I was therefore surprised by their lack of reference to their current consultation to replace their airport stand. The consultation is intended to inform their planning application to Newham for the replacement parking stands and an associated passenger pier to accommodate the new larger Bombardier CS100 plane which is expected to replace some of the smaller aircraft currently using the airport.
Larger planes are a pretty nifty way which appear to be used as a tool to increase capacity without actually increasing the number of flights. This “covert” form of expansion is something which I’ve witnessed at Heathrow and indeed highlighted in the past but I did not expect to see this at City Airport. The practice of employing larger planes throws up a number of environmental issues such as bigger planes probably mean more noise and more pollution and increased surface access movement. Yet passenger numbers remain a neglected measure of airport capacity. This was confirmed by Richard Gooding’s response to my question to him about this at the December meeting. He was clear that passenger numbers as a measuring cap had not been used until now. With plans afoot to introduce bigger planes, this is something which City Airport should begin to consider particularly within the context of their 120,000 permitted flights courtesy of Newham council. It is also, perhaps, an issue which the planning authority should have considered when they set the conditions for the original planning consent allowing an increase in flight numbers? One thing for sure is that when Newham are asked to consider the application from City Airport for these new stands, they should exercise a great deal more diligence when it comes to the consultation of its neighbouring boroughs to avoid another judicial review which ensued after the last application by City Airport.
For now, you can have your say here