GLA: tell us why expanding City Airport is a rubbish idea

It's official. Newham council is crap. Last year, Newham gave the go-ahead to a massive increase in the number of flights at London City Airport, a decision which was given the green light by London Mayor, Boris Johnson. This decision recently earned Johnson the 2010 award for worst planning decision and Newham Council is in the proverbial dodo.

Not only have local campaigners Fight the Flights launched a High Court challenge against the council’s expansion decision but now the Greater London Authority’s environmental committee is holding a public debate and review of the impact that expansion would have.

This is where you come in. The committee want all of us to tell them why Newham's decision to allow City to expand sucks. So, while City Airport flights spew out greenhouse gasses and deafen East London residents in order to fly fat bankers around, here's a summary of why you might want to tell the GLA that expansion at City flies in the face of common sense.

Climate change. Yes, we'll keep saying it until we're blue in the face. No matter what industry would like to have us believe, there's no way we can keep expanding air travel all over the UK and reduce our carbon emissions: high carbon industry is incompatible with a low carbon society. Period.

It’s probably unlawful. Just last week, Lord Justice Carnwath ruled that the decision to expand Heathrow Airport must be reviewed (and hopefully scrapped) in the light of the 2008 Climate Change Act. Following the same logic, this ruling for Heathrow should also stand for City Airport.

Local noise and air pollution. Newham already has above average levels of child mortality, asthma, cancer and respiratory illness. More jets will mean more local air pollution for Newham and East London residents. The airport has also persistently failed to monitor noise pollution levels: since 1999 their noise readings have been based on estimates. How convenient.

Newham council is well dodgy. The relationship between the head of London City and Newham Council is a bit too close for comfort. Conflicts of interest are rife. Newham council didn't bother to consult on the expansion with... well, anyone.

The consultation was a con. Newham claimed to have sent out 10,000 letters to local residents (apparently the opinions of the other people in the borough didn't count), but many residents received up to 6 letters at a time, with many others receiving nothing.

No consultation in neighbouring boroughs. None of the other East London boroughs were consulted, despite the fact that changes in flightpaths from the airport are already blighting the lives of thousands of East London residents.

Unfortunately, as with so many political decision-making processes, we have to spell out the obvious and make sure Newham council are held to account. Normally we encourage people to take direct action to achieve this. On this occasion, the GLA enquiry is important enough to support. So get in touch with them now and tell them why you think City airport shouldn't be allowed to increase its flights.

For more info on why City shouldn't be allowed to expand, check out the Fight the Flights' website and fact page.

They destroy the planet. We get locked up for talking about it

4 men and 1 woman were arrested and charged on Wednesday 31st March for speaking in public about the climate effects of aviation at the reopening of Glasgow Airport Terminal 2. The group from Stop Expansion at Scottish Airports (SESA), including a legal observer and two photographers, were leaving the airport after holding a banner for a photograph outside Terminal 1 when a police van and police car pulled up and arrested 4 of the group.

Late into the night, riot police later went to the homes of the arrested without warrants. On Thursday the 5 were charged with obstructing normal airport business. All of the accused deny the charges. The group believes that those arrested were targetted because SESA is calling for a public non-violent peaceful protest at the airport on October 10.

Amelia Birrell, had riot police at her door after midnight saying that they wanted to question her son, Robbie. She said: "I think that this justice system is a joke when it locks up peaceful individuals until 6pm the next day when they are talking about such serious measures as climate change. We were made to feel like criminals when riot police searched around the whole of our house in the middle of the night. I know that the airport is a sensitive place but they are all passionate individuals worried about the future of our country and they were doing nothing to cause any disturbance. I am proud of my son, we are supposed to have freedom of speech in this country and such heavy handed policing is disproportionate and hypocritical."

This is not the first time that Scottish anti-airport expansion campaigners have been subject to heavy-handed policing tactics. In January 2009 Geoff Lamb, a pensioner from Aberdeen was been held in a cell overnight for innocently writing 'you fly, we die' in the snow in food dye. Later in 2009, Plane Stupid exposed a massive police operation to bribe and infiltrate peaceful protest groups.

The disproportionate tactics we have seen by Strathclyde police mirror those infamously used by the Metropolitan police. Arrested for voicing concerns about the aviation industry’s massive and growing contribution to climate change? Who are the real criminals here?

Manchester Airport to be as big as Heathrow

Campaigners against expansion at Manchester Airport have been digging around in the Committee on Climate Change's aviation report, and discovered that the airport's expansion plans would make it as big as Heathrow by 2050.

Unsurprisingly people near the airport - including those at Hasty Lane who risk losing their homes to make way for a freight depot - are not best pleased. A Liberal Democrat councillor, who's been campaigning against expansion, told the Manchester Evening News that "Nobody I’ve spoken to was aware of the extent to which Manchester Airport hopes to expand, indeed those I’ve told are both shocked and stunned by the news."

The airport recently drew up a carbon reduction strategy, including magic lightbulbs in the toilets and all sorts of eco-gubbins. It omitted the emissions from planes, making it as useful as a chocolate teapot. It still received a Carbon Trust Standard award... which just shows up the Carbon Trust as arch-greenwashers.

Residents are fighting back though: recently they twinned with Sipson to show solidarity between blighted communities. Rumours abound about their latest plans... we'll bring you updates as we receive them.

Craven council approves expansion of Lydd Airport


Imagine you're a councillor in on the south coast of England. A tiny airport, best known for hosting raves during the acid house days of the early 1990s, comes to you for permission to expand. The airport is nestled between Dungeness nuclear power station and the oldest RSPB bird sanctuary in the country. You'd say no, right?

Not if you're a councillor from the rotten borough of Shepway. Last night this ragtag bunch of incompetents decided to approve expansion, overlooking the concerns of the nuclear power plant about the potential risk of a plane hitting a reactor, local people worried about the noise of planes overhead, the impact on the bird population and even the recomendation of their planning officers that the expansion plan be rejected.

As usual, the airport owners have been over-hyping the benefits of expansion. They renamed the airport London Ashford Airport, despite it being nowhere near London or Ashford. I'm not sure in what warped version of reality they envisage passengers landing at Lydd and not being pissed off when they find out that London is still half a world away.

Earth to Shepway Council: you are in the middle of nowhere. No one will voluntarily fly to you. The only attractions in your area are Pontins and the RSPB reserve at Dungeness... which you've just ruined by encouraging thousands of planes overhead. Well done chaps. Trebles all round!

Glasgow airport pushes expansion while passenger numbers fall off a cliff

Glasgow Airport is determined to pump more carbon into the atmosphere despite a massive drop in passenger demand. Well it’s no big news that the aviation industry does not require consumer demand to expand. Inspired by the predict and provide of the 1990’s road building which brought us a motorway through the centre of Glasgow, the industry is dedicated to creating demand with cheap flights - whether we want them or not.

Nevertheless, it's amazing that managing director Amanda McMillan just announced plans to invest £25 million 'improving' that airport because it lost one-in-eight passengers over the past year. Fly Globespan and Zoom Airline collapsed and most RyanAir flights moved to Edinburgh. Given that part of the airport was closed over winter due to lack of demand, why are they so dead set on expanding?

Technically, of course, they're not expanding; the airport is being "enhanced". In the Scottish National Planning Framework the word "expansion" was changed to allow airports to expand more easily. This means BAA can up the possible passenger numbers without going through any of a legitimate, democratic planning process.

Following the Copenhagen climate conference and a sparkling new Scottish Climate Change Bill, it would make sense to allow passenger numbers to drop naturally whilst driving for a high speed rail link. However, that wouldn't make BAA any money, so unsurpsingly it's not on the cards. Instead, they're dedicated to generating new and unsustainable demand. It's like the collapse of the passenger numbers which followed the recession has taught them nothing.

On top of this BAA Glasgow are also very pleased to announce that they are contributing £1 million towards the famed M74 extension. Not only are they creating excessive noise in Glasgow’s poorer neighbourhoods by flying jets metres above their heads, but also by helping build a motorway through the middle of the city. I wonder if they'll be putting thaton the 'community matters' section of their website. Thought not.