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London City airport expansion plans rejected

A bid to raise annual passenger numbers from 6.5 million to nine million by extending the operating hours of the docklands airport was blocked by Newham Council. Concerns were raised over increased noise pollution and emissions if extra flights were allowed. The airport had sought to extend its operating hours on Saturdays to allow take-offs and landing up until 6.30pm, alongside three additional early morning flights on weekdays.

Flights are not allowed from 12.30pm Saturdays to 12.30pm Sundays to provide respite for nearby residents under a long-standing curfew. 

The airport argued extended hours was key to incentivising airlines to speed up investment in new generation aircraft that are quieter on departure, and that it would help meet heightened post-Covid passenger demand.

Airport chief executive Robert Sinclair, speaking in support of the application, was reported by the London Evening Standard to have said: “In formulating these proposals, we have worked incredibly hard and thought incredibly hard about achieving the right balance, recognising the interests of local residents and how we can improve the environmental impact of our operations, in particular noise and emissions.”

He added: “Extending the operating period on Saturday afternoons will allow our airlines to serve the very significant demand for travel on weekends, with flights leaving and returning on the same day, giving more choice and more destinations.”

But councillors rejected the proposals after hearing that the introduction of extra flights would “result in a materially new and substantial harm” through noise pollution.

Members of the council’s strategic development committee voted against the airport’s plans.

Nine neighbouring councils and four MPs for surrounding areas had also opposed the proposals.

The application will now be referred to the Greater London Authority for a final decision.

A Newham Council spokesperson said that the refusal “reflects the council’s continued concerns over the noise and environmental impact of the airport on those living nearby. These concerns were shared by a number of other boroughs who also submitted objections to the proposals.”

A spokesperson for the airport said it was “disappointed” by the decision.

They said: “Our proposals will create almost 2,200 jobs at the airport, support an additional 2,300 London jobs through tourism and increased business productivity; contribute an additional £702 million in gross value added to London’s economy and improve connectivity for passengers. 

“Our proposals include mo more flights than are currently permitted and – a UK airport first – a commitment that only cleaner, quieter, new generation aircraft will be allowed to fly in any extended periods.

“We firmly believe in our proposals, which are carefully balanced and make best use of our infrastructure. We are actively considering next steps.”

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