Sadiq Khan warned London City Airport that “unfettered growth is not an option” as he attacked its plans for expansion.
The mayor of London said residents must have a break from flight noise, and the airport should take its air pollution and environmental responsibilities more seriously.
The airport, in the Royal Docks, wants more people to use it, particularly holiday travellers. It expects a record 5 million passengers this year, up 40 per cent in the past five years.
It consulted on its draft plan from June until late September, and is currently assessing responses.
Residents are concerned the expansion plans would end the 24-hour break from overhead flights at weekends. Khan said he could not support the plans in their current form because “it would not be in the interest of Londoners”.
Khan said noise from planes remained a “fundamental issue” as changes to flight paths three years ago meant some areas were being flown over too often. He said breaks from flights – overnight, and for 24 hours from lunchtime on Saturday – “must not be eroded” and the airport should use new technology to give residents more relief, not just to maximise profits.
The mayor also said it should set higher targets for public transport access to reduce the air pollution it causes, and questioned plans to expand parking by 20 per cent. Khan said the airport must consider emissions from flights in its carbon reduction plans.
The airport’s current target of net zero emissions by 2050 does not include flights – only aiport terminals, landing vehicles, and other ground operations.
In a letter to its chief executive Robert Sinclair, the mayor said: “The airport’s ambitions are clear, but the draft master plan raises significant concerns. The airport must take its environmental responsibilities and its impact on Londoners seriously.
“It is essential for the airport to recognise that unfettered growth is not an option and that it must be proactive in addressing its noise, air quality and carbon impacts.”
Mr Khan joins the London Assembly’s Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green groups, as well as the Mayors of Newham and Tower Hamlets in opposing the draft plans.
Newham, Tower Hamlets, Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Lewisham and Hackney councils have also criticised the current proposals. Greenwich recently expressed concern about the proposal.
Airport is ‘acting irresponsibly’
Alan Haughton, a Blackwall resident and campaigner with Hacan East, a group opposing the airport’s expansion, welcomed Khan’s letter.
He said: “It’s a very strong response from the mayor. He obviously gets that London City Airport is acting irresponsibly with what it has put in its draft masterplan.”
Haughton said the airport should now provide more details of proposed changes to flight paths so residents could better understand the noise impact.
He said: “The airport needs to stop. They need to kill this dead in the water – no one wants it. They need to scrap all expansion plans and all plans for weekend flights – until we have clear concise flight paths everything else must be on hold.”
A spokesperson for London City Airport said consulting on its plans had been the “ideal opportunity” to gather views on its future.
He said: “We take our environmental responsibilities seriously, both to local residents and to London as a whole, and our record to date on air quality, noise and carbon reduction demonstrates this commitment.
“In the event that the airport were to submit more detailed proposals in the future, these would be subject to full assessment of environmental impacts, as part of our rigorous focus on sustainable growth.”
Jessie Mathewson is the Local Democracy Reporter for the Greater London Authority. The Local Democracy Reporter Scheme is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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