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Tower Hamlets Council opposes London City Airport growth proposals

Tower Hamlets Council members have agreed a motion in opposition to London City Airport growth proposals. The motion was debated at a full council meeting on Wednesday 18th September.

Members criticised the environmental damage that would be done through any increases in operations and highlighted the detrimental impact that the airport has on residents living in the East End, including Tower Hamlets.

The airport is currently consulting on a raft of growth proposals as part of its draft ‘Masterplan 2020-2035’, including lifting the limit on passenger numbers and increasing its annual flight limit from 111,000 to 151,000. The airport may also look at relaxing rules that require it to close between 1230 on Saturdays until 1230 on Sundays, and is seeking views on introducing more flexibility on the number of flights during the first and last half hours of operations during weekdays. The airport currently has an eight-hour overnight curfew.

In March 2019, Tower Hamlets Council become one of the first local councils in the country to declare a Climate Emergency. The Council will also be responding formally to the London City Airport consultation, the deadline for which has been extended until 18th October.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “While the airport does bring benefits to Tower Hamlets we need to think very carefully about the impact of any expansion on the environment and the many residents who live nearby or under the flight paths. I’m concerned that increasing flights at the airport would lead to increasing noise levels and exacerbating climate change. The level of noise coming from new aircraft also needs to be tightly regulated and the 24 hour weekend closure needs to be retained and early and late flights tightly controlled as at present.”

Councillor Val Whitehead, proposer of the motion, said: “Alongside many other councils and governments around the world, we’ve declared a climate emergency in Tower Hamlets. We need to take solid steps forward to reverse environmental damage, but airport expansion would mean taking several steps backwards. I’m grateful that colleagues supported this motion and I hope it sends a clear message that we’re serious about meeting our climate obligations.”

Councillor Ehtasham Haque, seconder of the motion, said: “London City Airport is proposing to almost double the number of flights. In percentage terms this is a bigger increase than Heathrow’s third runway. Before the airport was built residents were promised it would be small, operating only ‘whispering’ jets. They feel cheated as promise after promise has been broken by an airport they rarely ever use.”