See the report here
Covering letter from John Stewart :
Here are the main points from London City’s Consultative Committee which I attended yesterday:
The meetings are getting a lot better: the chair is competent, personable and fair; the old ultra pro-airport Newham councillors have been replaced by a new breed of younger councillors; the agenda is focused on the issues rather than the stories we used to get from some local residents about their latest great flight from London City.
The airport is behind schedule on insulating the properties that are being or will be affected by noise from the construction work. They were a bit late in starting to plan the work but have now run into difficulties with a number of residents not responding to their requests as to whether they want insultation in their homes. We heard that the new CEO has made completion of the insultation work a priority and I sense that, after a slow start, they are now making a real effort, with their staff knocking on individual doors to try and contact people. They expect to have completed the insultation work by the end of the year.
Tessa Simpson, who heads up the Environment Team, gave a straightforward summary of the responses they have received to their Noise Action Plan. They received 37 responses. The top three concerns were 1. the concentrated flight paths 2. the heights of aircraft, especially in SE London and 3. a desire for more noise monitors. I think we can give ourselves a collective pack on the back, with particularly thanks to our friends in SE London, as these are 3 of our main issues. I think, at long last, the senior staff at the airport have realised that London City is not just a Newham issue. Throughout yesterday’s meeting they kept referring its impact on East, North East and South East London. The final Noise Action Plan is expected to be published towards the end of the year after its has been approved by DEFRA (the Government department responsible for noise) .
The airport has appointed the consultancy firm of Arup (who do a lot of transport work) to assist them drawing up their Master Plan. They said – looking straight at me! – that no decisions had been taken on on major issues yet. You’ll remember we unearthed the information, which the airport has not denied, that the Master Plan, which essentially sets out their vision for the next 10-20 years or so – might include lifting the cap on annual flight numbers and on the ban on flights between midday Saturday and midday Sunday, both of which would be the reddest of red lines for us. The airport stressed that the consultative committee would be fully engaged in the Master Plan process. That’s fine, but I think we need guard against being smothered by friendliness and engagement. If they do include the sort of expansion aspirations we oppose, we will need to mount a strong campaign against them. The Master Plan is likely to be on the agenda at the December Consultative Committee meeting so we will know more then.
We had an interesting presentation from the young man who heads up their public transport section. Currently 68% of people using the airport use public transport (which I suspect is the highest in the UK – as it ought to be given its location). They have a target of increasing that to 75% by 2025. He outlined a series of positive measures they hope to take to make that happen including more people using the DLR, more car-sharing amongst staff, more emphasis on enabling disabled people to use public transport, a new emphasis on walking and cycling and ‘for people who feel they must drive’ electric charge facilities to encourage people to use electric vehicles. The biggest barrier to achieving their target is that the new DLR trains which will have more capacity are not due to on-stream until 2022….and, at peak times, there are problems now with overcrowding. We asked if somebody from DLR could come to the next meeting.
You’ll see that complaints about noise have fallen. I suspect that may be wind-related – the fall has been particularly noticeable in Waltham Forest, most of which didn’t get planes during the long period of easterly winds we had earlier in the year.
The three main points I take away from all this:
1. We have got across the widespread impact of the airport
2. We are going to need to do some work again on encouraging people to complain
3. We are going to have to watch the Master Plan proposals very carefully.
We should have a committee meeting fairly soon but I am putting it off until we see if the CAA’s report into the concentrated flight paths is to be published as they claimed it would be in early September. For the same reason I’ve postponed asking the new Mayor of Newham and the new leaders of Havering and Greenwich for meetings.