London City

Shutting down London City Airport good for economy

Shutting down an airport.  Officially.  Legally.  For good.  It sounds like the impossible dream.  Wild.  Impracticable.  Impossible in this day and age.  It sounds even more ridiculous to claim that it will benefit the economy.

Yet that is exactly what a new report published today by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) claims will happen if London City Airport closes.  Royal Docks Revival: Replacing City Airport, commissioned by the campaign group HACAN East, shows that, if City Airport were shut down, the land freed up would be able to cater for businesses which produced many more jobs and created a lot more income than the airport does.

The stats are convincing.  City Airport contributes £750 million each year to the UK economy.  The nearby Excel Centre, which occupies roughly the same amount of space as the airport, contributes £1.3 billion. City Airport employs the equivalent of 1,900 full-time jobs.  The proposed Silvertown Quays development, just along the road, estimates it will employ 9,000.  Even if that turns out to be an overestimate, the difference remains huge.  But the report’s emphasis is more about replacing the airport with community-run businesses rather than with more big corporations.

The closure of London City would not add to the pressure to expand Heathrow or any other London Airport.  City only accounts for 2.4% of the traffic at the London airports, easily absorbed by the other airports.

Currently the airport messes up the local community with noise and air pollution. The local choir who sang at the launch said they couldn’t perform outside because of the noise of the planes.  The airport also contributes to CO2 emissions.  What could be cooler than closing it down.  This report shows that would also benefit the economy.

London City Airport - the verdict is out

If the discovery of various undercover cops within the climate movement over the last few weeks has not yet destroyed any last scraps of faith that you had in our supposedly 'democratic' system, then perhaps todays news will help finish it for good.

Despite an outcry from local residents in Newham who suffer from noise and air pollution on a daily basis, despite Newham Council's failure to consult local residents and surrounding boroughs on the impacts of expansion, and despite the fact that airport expansion of any type is in total opposition to the governments legally binding climate change commitments, the High Court has today refused to quash Newham Council's decision to allow London City Airport to expand its operations by 50%.

The failure of the legal system to stand up for the public good and against short sighted corporate interest has once again been made clear. For the residents of Newham, expansion will mean more noise and more pollution in one of the poorest areas of the whole of the UK. Yet many of the people who will suffer most as a result of the negative impacts of expansion were never even asked for their opinions. Not the residents of Newham. Not the surrounding London borough. And certainly not the populations of the developing nations which will be hit first and foremost by a changing climate.

Never has the need for direct action been so great. Our political system is not designed to deal with the threat of climate change. Worryingly, it is also increasingly helping to support the interests of large companies over the human rights of citizens. Once again, the law has served as a testimony for why direct action is a necessary course of action. LCA may today have won in the courts, the real battle is far from over.

Reacting to the decision, chair of local campaign group Fight the Flights Anne-Marie Griffen said:

"We are desperately disappointed by this decision. London City Airport already causes major disturbance and pollution to people living locally - the disappointment we feel at this outcome will be shared by thousands of residents across East London who are severely affected by London City Airport's operations but were not consulted about expansion.

Without clear guidelines to local councils on aviation expansion, the emissions targets set have no hope of being met. Fight the Flights is currently taking legal advice as to whether to appeal".

Rally against domestic flights at Manchester and London City airports

Campaigners opposed to the expansion of London City and Manchester Airports will join forces this Saturday in a protest against domestic flights.

The day will begin with a rally at London City Airport at 11am. Campaigners will then travel through London on an open top bus to Euston where they will board a train to Manchester. They will be greeted off the train at Manchester Piccadilly and travel for a second rally at Terminal 3 of Manchester Airport.

There are currently around 38 flights per day between Manchester and the London hubs. Climate activists argue that these are the most unnecessary flights of all because there are easily available alternatives such as the train, which produce a lot less carbon emissions.

Phil Thornhill from Campaign against Climate Change said "As unprecedented flooding devastates Pakistan, record temperatures stoke raging wildfires around Moscow and torrential downpours cause landslides that kill thousands in China - it’s time we got serious about the escalating threat from climate change before it’s too late.  Aviation symbolises the high-emission lifestyles of the developed world that are threatening billions, especially in the most vulnerable communities, around the world. We can start to get to grips with the growth in aviation by eliminating the shorter journeys that can be made in other, less carbon intensive, ways."

Local Manchester councillor Martin Eakins who will be attending the demonstration said, "Aviation from Manchester Airport contributes more greenhouse gasses than all other polluters put together in Manchester. Reducing our carbon output by ending domestic flights would go a long way to making our city environmentally sustainable."

Robbie Gillett from the ‘Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport’ coalition said "There are currently around 38 flights per day between Manchester and the London hubs. Airlines such as Flybe who promote these domestic flights are encouraging airport expansion and threatening the stability of the climate in order to line their own pockets. These flights are the most unnecessary of all and should stop immediately.  Instead, we need to create green jobs in sustainable transport networks such as rail."

Anne-Marie Griffin, Chair of ‘Fight the Flights’ at London City Airport said: "An end to unnecessary domestic flights for trips which could be taken by train, would have a hugely positive impact on the residents around London City Airport. Not only would they experience less flight noise and pollution from City Airports' domestic flights, but also from those heading to Heathrow. Travellers taking the train instead of the plane could help improve the lives and health of thousands of Londoners."

Newham Council is selling its constituents down the river

Over the last three weeks Plane Stupid's estate agents have been planting ‘For Sale’ signs all over East London in honour of Newham's determination to sell their constituents down the river by supporting the expansion of City Airport.

One sign reads: ‘Community For Sale: Contact Robin ‘Weasel’ Wales. Airport Owners Only Need Apply’. Another sign reads: ‘Newham Council: completely sold out to London City Airport’.

Spokesperson Nancy Birch said Newham’s mayor, Sir Robin Wales, must prove he is worthy of his recent re-election by reviewing the council’s decision to allow London City Airport to increase its annual flights from 91,000 to 120,000. Since the council gave the green light to expansion last July, residents all over east and north-east London have suffered from aircraft noise following the introduction of new flight paths.

"Sir Robin is ultimately responsible for protecting the health and wellbeing of people of Newham," said Nancy. "The air quality around the airport already exceeds EU guidelines and now, with the increase in flights, the whole of the east side of London is suffering from higher levels of noise and pollution."

Councils in Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Bexley and Barking & Dagenham are supporting a High Court challenge by East London campaign group, Fight The Flights, to stop the expansion. Residents in Greenwich and Hackney are also likely to be affected by an increase in flights.

Miss Birch continues: "Following his re-election Sir Robin told reporters, 'We have to fight to defend our people and support them the best we can.' Now he needs to practice what he preaches. We are calling for Newham Council to review its policy on London City Airport and say no to expansion."

Plane Stupid targets Red Bull-shit

Plane Stupid has deposited a large mound of manure outside the south London HQ of soft drink giant Red Bull, because they've applied for planning permission to build an aerodrome opposite London City Airport.

Three activists, dressed as ‘avenging air hostesses’ in wigs and mini-dresses the same colour as the company’s logo, crowned the mound with placards reading: ‘Red Bull-sh*t’, ‘Red Bull gives you (plane) wings’ and ‘No second runway by stealth.’

The company claims that the new control tower, runway and helipads would support its annual air race on the River Thames. But there are growing fears that the company is working with London City Airport and Newham Council to introduce a new heliport and permanent runway for private jets through the back door.

"We believe Red Bull’s claim is bullshit and we’re telling them so," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Baines. "London City Airport is positioning itself a major hub for City executives. We suspect that Red Bull’s planning application is an underhand way of helping the airport to attract private jet and helicopter users. That way, City Airport's owners won’t have to deal with fierce opposition from people in East London who are sick and tired of the noise and pollution from the airport."

London City Airport has been feeling the heat recently. Local campaign group Fight The Flights has launched a High Court bid to stop the airport from expanding its flights volume by 50%. Six local councils have publically supported FTF’s bid. The Greater London Assembly’s Environment Committee is also holding a probe into the effects of the expansion.

"We insist that Newham council turns down this planning application. Red Bull may have high flying ideas but this time we think their wings should be clipped," Elizabeth added.

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.

Anthill Mob reinforce anti-expansion message during Copenhagen climate talks

Activists in east London have painted two mega-messages against growth in aviation - and flights at London City Airport in particular - to coincide with the Copenhagen climate summit. One message saying, ‘Still climate criminals!’ is written in giant letters on the top of a 60ft hill situated just south of City Airport, which planes pass directly over.

"It’s a message to the delegates flying to and back from Copenhagen," explains Elsie Wai, spokesperson for local anti-expansion group, the Anthill Mob. "The conscientious will be taking the train but the selfish will be flying. We’re reminding the selfish delegates that they’ll remain climate criminals until they start thinking green."

The group are also angry about London City Airport’s continuing attempts to increase business and private flights. The airport currently has approximately 80,000 commercial flights a year but aims to increase this to 170,000 by 2030. "That means more pollution, more global warming and more misery for local people," says Elsie.

The Anthill Mob’s second message is written in 10ft high letters along the boundary fence of Tate & Lyle’s sugar refinery - situated beside the Docklands Light Railway approach to the airport. The message reads: ‘Drop the sweet talk: no flight expansion at City Airport.’

"You only have to look around the area next to the airport to see that it is in terminal decline," says Elsie. "The airport has made millions in profits but all we get in return is more noise and pollution. Pretty much everything at City Airport is automated. As it stands, a tiny number of people benefit from employment at the airport while the wider community and the climate suffers."

Cases of asthma and child mortality are already above the national average in the borough of Newham – where the airport is based. Expanding the airport means a massive increase in pollution which will further blight one of the poorest areas in London.

Redbridge versus Newham: round 1


Time to pop the champers, don your dancing shoes and skip around the room like a loon. Fair enough they may not seem like the most likely candidates for us to be praising, but Redbridge Council have just done something utterly wonderful, and Newham and their City Airport fat cat buddies ain't gonna be best pleased.

Last Thursday, Redbridge Council unanimously agreed to oppose "further expansion or changes to flightpaths or the mode of operation of airports...which would result in an increase in aircraft noise suffered by the residents of this borough". That means you, City Airport!

However, Redbridge's good deeds don't cease there. Not only did they oppose any airport expansion which would affect their borough, they emphasised that airport expansion should not be permitted anywhere on local noise and pollution but also climate change grounds. It turns out that Newham (surprise surprise) didn't bother to ask Redbridge what they thought about the prospect of deafeningly loud flightpaths being redirected over their heads. They're pissed off about that too.

This won't be the first time that Newham forgot to consult, well, anyone except themselves. Fight the Flights is taking Newham to court on the grounds giving City Airport permission to expand goes against government policy on climate change (even if the government seems to have forgotten any such policy exists), and that Newham failed to consult local residents. And of course we're continued to hound City Airport like the relentless activists that we are. Newham must be quaking in their carbon crammed boots.

Video of yuppie City Airport demo

I love the sound of yuppies in the morning, and hope the people of Newham do, because there's soon to be thousands (well, 32) descending on them to take advantage of British Airways's latest scheme: a luxury business-class only flight to New York for people whose accounts departments really should be checking their expenses more closely.

As Fight the Flights, the anti-City Airport expansion group, have noticed, Newham Council and and London City Airport really care about the local people. LCA is overjoyed at the benefits that increasing flights by 50% will bring to a borough already suffering from below average air quality and higher than average asthma rates.

Not so overjoyed as to actually ask them for an opinion, mind. Their latest consultation seems to have been conducted on the don't ask, don't tell principle. Somewhere between 10,000 and 16,000 households were asked for their views, which the council claims cost them £130,000. Given that there were 92,000 households in Newham back in 2001, we can only conclude that the council decided to spend its money on gold-plated consultation papers costing about £10,000 per household rather than soliciting the views of everyone who lives in its area.

Fight the Flights has challenged the whole expansion fiasco, and is taking Newham to court for a whole host of charges, mostly related to not considering certain Government policies, not consulting properly, and generally being a bunch of tossers (that's a bona-fide legal term, in case you were wondering). Fingers crossed that they didn't save some of the consultation budget back to bribe the judge with, although I wouldn't put it past them.