The 1990 Public Inquiry
- conclusions & recommendations
Extract from Report of 1990 public inquiry into the proposal to extend the runway at the Airport and permit other types of aircraft
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Between July 1990 and January 1991 there was a public inquiry into Mowlem's application for planning permission to extend the length of the runway, to provide starter strips, to relocate the navigation aids and to instal approach lighting. This would allow the Airport to be used by a wider range of aircraft. At the same time permission was sought to vary the hours during which the Airport could operate, to increase the number of air transport movements and to introduce a new noise regime in which the number of aircraft movements would be factored according to the amount of noise made by the aircraft concerned.
A concurrent inquiry considered the design of the bridge to carry the proposed East London River Crossing (ELRC) over the River Thames. If built according to the cable stayed design then proposed the Airport would not have been able to operate in the manner proposed. (In the event, following objections in relation to Oxleas Wood south of the River, the proposals to build ELRC were abandoned. More modest proposals for a river crossing are now mooted.)
The report of the inquiry was issued by the Secretary of State later in 1991. Here is an extract showing the Inspector's Conclusions and Recommendations. The full report can now be seen on our Archives Page
LONDON DOCKLANDS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
LONDON CITY AIRPORT LIMITED
Inspector: M Astrinsky
DipTP RIBA MRTPI
The Site and Surrounding Area
12.1 London City Airport (LCY), the applications site, is situated some 6 miles to the east of the City of London within the Royal Docks near the north bank of the River Thames. The airport is some 38 ha in extent and includes a runway pavement with 2 overlying runways on a former wharf between the Royal Albert and King George V Docks, a terminal building, and vehicle circulation and parking areas.
12.2 North Woolwich and East Silvertown, residential and industrial areas, lie to the south of the airport on the narrow strip of land between the airport/King George V Dock and the River Thames. The residential areas, include medium and high rise flats and terraced houses, Storey Street and Drew Road Primary Schools, local shops, and community facilities. West Silvertown to the south of the Royal Victoria Dock is flanked by industrial development and includes high rise flats and streets of terraced houses on either side of North Woolwich Road, with local shops and community facilities.
12.3 To the west of the airport a number of tall mill buildings, one of which is occupied, adjoin the southern side of Royal Victoria Dock and the Pontoon Dock to its south. Except for these, some new road infrastructure to the south, and some warehouse buildings on the north side of the dock, the area around the dock has largely been cleared. Canning Town to the north of the Royal Victoria Dock is mainly residential with some mixed commercial development. The north side of the Royal Albert Dock is flanked by former warehouses in poor condition, some of which are in use. The mainly residen-tial areas of Custom House and Beckton lie to the north, the latter including large areas of modern housing, and industrial development to the east. To the east of the airport beyond Woolwich Manor Way, the area surrounding Royal Albert Dock Basin has been largely cleared, as has the area to the north east. A clubhouse for water based recreation adjoins the east end of King George V Dock. There are a large number of sites in the wider area surrounding the airport where development is envisaged.
12.4 The airport is approximately 1 mile south of the A13 Trunk Road which is a principal route to the City of London to the west and to the A406 North Circular Road, the M25 and M11 to the east. The route of the proposed East London River Crossing Bridge lies approximately 3/4 mile to the east. The airport is served by rail (Silvertown and City Airport Station to the south west), by Riverbus with a connecting dedicated bus service between the Riverbus jetty and the airport, and directly by bus routes There is very considerable road building in the wider area surrounding the airport, and the Docklands Light Railway extension to Beckton is under construction to the north of the Royal Albert Dock
12.5 Greenwich and Woolwich adjoin the south bank of the River Thames, with extensive residential areas to the south on higher ground. Thamesmead, on the south bank of the River Thames, lies directly east of the airport runway; its centre is some 2 miles from the airport boundary, and the Thamesmead bank of the Thames directly to the east of the airport is undeveloped and is just under 1 mile distant.
12.6 The Royal Docks were closed for general cargo handling at the end of 1981. An outline planning application for the development of an aerodrome on the application site for use by short take off and landing type aircraft to be known as"'STOLport" was called in for decision by the Secretary of State, and following a public local in 1983 the Secretary of State granted outline planning permission for the aerodrome in 1985 subject to a number of conditions. The conditions include in summary:
(*indicates the conditions proposed to be modified in Application No.2):
12.7 Public Local Inquiries were held between 10 September 1985 and 23 December 1986 into proposals by the Secretary of State for Transport, and applications to the Secretary of State for the Environment in respect of 3 certificates, to make a number of Orders concerning the East London River Crossing (ELRC). The Orders included a proposal for a cable stayed bridge. In the closing days of the Inquiries, Eurocity Express and the Air Transport Users Committee submitted objections concerning the height of the proposed bridge and the effect this would have on the future development of LCY; the Inspector forwarded these to the Secretaries of State without comment. Letters outlining the consequences to LCY of a high bridge were submitted to the Minister of State at the Department of Transport by British Aerospace in December 1986 and by John Mowlem and Company PLC in September 1987.
12.8 In their decision letter of 28 July 1988 the Secretaries of State stated that they were mindful that the proposed bridge would permanently inhibit the future development of the airport, and concluded that the design of the bridge should be reviewed. They confirmed the Orders but deferred a decision on those parts of the Draft Orders which related to the design of the bridge and its approaches. The Secretary of State for Transport commissioned a study into whether there was an alternative bridge design which would be practicable, acceptable, within the broad order of costs of the Department's proposed bridge, would satisfy the objectives of the scheme, and keep open options for the future use of the airport. The box girder bridge now proposed by the Department of Transport at the concurrent inquiries follows from that study.
12.9 LCY was constructed between April 1986 and October 1987, and opened on 26 October 1987, with aircraft utilising a 7 ½ ?glidepath. London City Airway Limited (formerly Eurocity Express and now part of British Midland Airways) and Brymon Airways began operations with 2 aircraft each to Paris and Brussels. The Paris route was suspended in December 1987 by the CAA on the grounds of alleged lack of safety to the aircraft when flying in uncontrolled airspace. Following an inquiry, arrangements were made for access to controlled airspace and the full services were re-opened in February 1988. In the second year of operations Dash 7 services were extended to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, with flights to the Channel Islands. In the third year Flexair introduced a Dornier 228 service to Rotterdam, and Air France, operating in partnership with Brymon's Paris operation, introduced Dash 7 services to Lille, Strasbourg and Nantes. By March 1990 annual ATMs had reached some 14,000, and weekly throughput had reached a level of some 6,300 passengers.
12.10. In Application No 1 (Plan A) it is proposed to increase the runway length from 1030m to 1199m and construct starter strips of 186m at the eastern end and 75m at the western end. The starter strips are required to enable aircraft to clear structures to the west and proposed structures to the east. Navaids would be relocated and runway approach lighting would be installed. The implementation of these proposals would require the variation of existing Condition 4 and the deletion of existing Condition 5. These proposals would enable LCY to be used by aircraft other than the present Dash 7 and Dornier 228. Candidate aircraft include the 4 engined British Aerospace 146 turbofan, and twin engined turboprop aircraft such as the Boeing Canada Dash 8, the Fokker 50, and the Avions de Transport Regional ATR42. In order to allow the new aircraft to operate into LCY, the glidepath would have to be decreased from the present 7 ½degrees to 5 ½ degrees.
12.11. In Application No 2 (Plan B) in addition to the variation of existing Conditions 4 and 5 (see above), it is proposed to vary existing Conditions 11, 12 and 13 in order to increase the permitted amount of ATMs and hours of operation. Proposed Condition 11 would have the following effect on hours of operation:
12.12. The noise control system now proposed in Condition 12, in summary, is based on the categorisation of aircraft according to their noise level on take-off measured at 4 points and averaged over the year. The categories provide a Noise Factor for aircraft. The air transport movement of each aircraft multiplied by the appropriate Noise Factor determines the number of factored ATMs used in Condition 13 to limit the yearly and weekly number of ATMS. The NNI contours resulting from the operation of LCY in accordance with the proposed noise control system are predicted not to exceed those indicated in Document C9/28. The NNI contours resulting from the operation of LCY in accordance with the present permission and noise control system are predicted not to exceed those indicated in Document C9/27.
12.13.Proposed Condition 13 would have the following effect on the number of air transport movements:
Policies and Plans
12.14. Airports Policy, the 1985 White Paper Cmnd 9542, refers to the vital importance of civil aviation to the national economy, to the beneficial consequences of airport development, and to Government commitment to mitigating the effects of aircraft noise. Policy objectives include, inter alia, to foster a strong and competitive British airline industry; to minimise the impact of airports on the environment generally, and to ensure that land use planning and conservation policies take fully into account both the development needs arising from airports and the environmental consequences; to make the best use of existing facilities and provide new capacity only when economically justified; and to encourage enterprise and efficiency in the operation of major airports by providing for the introduction of private capital. LCY is referred to as a Stolport designed for short take off and landing aeroplanes conveniently located to serve business passengers travelling to and from the City and Central London which is expected to provide scheduled services to a number of domestic and European destinations, with passenger throughput projected to build up to about one million passengers per year within 6 years. Reference is also made to LCY's important and welcome contribution to capacity by providing the City with fast commercial air connections to other business centres.
12.15. National policies seek to regenerate inner city areas such as London Docklands. LCY is within the area of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC). In accordance with Section 136 of the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980, the object of an urban development corporation is to secure the regeneration of its area. This is to be achieved by bringing land and buildings into use, encouraging the development of existing and new industry and commerce, creating an attractive environment and ensuring that housing and social facilities are available to encourage people to live and work in the area.
12.16. Regional Guidance for the South East, PPG 9, includes objectives aimed at improving the attractions of London for people and firms and improving some of the transport links in London and the rest of the region, fostering economic growth, and revitalising the less prosperous eastern part of the region and the older urban areas through investment aimed at facilitating and encouraging the involvement of the private sector.
12.17. The Strategic Planning Guidance for London of July 1989 includes, inter alia, objectives relating to economic growth and the importance of London's continuing prosperity; the older urban areas; transport systems; residential districts and housing; the environment; and Metropolitan Open Land. Reference is made to the importance of maintaining and strengthening London's international competitiveness, to the substantial growth envisaged in the business sector particularly in and around the City of London and Docklands, to increasing interest in business and housing developments in East London. It notes that development pressures have for many years been stronger in West than East London but policies aimed at improving the attractiveness of East London can help redress the imbalance. London City Airport is referred to as making an increasing contribution to air services from London, particularly for business travellers and mention is made of improvements to access for both LCY and Heathrow.
12.18. The statutory development plan for the area in which LCY is located is the Greater London Development Plan approved in 1976 (GLDP) and the Initial Development Plan for Greater London (IDP). In the Initial Development Plan East Ham Town Map 1966 and West Ham Town Map 1968 the site is within an area allocated primarily for Port of London Authority use and for water transport. The Secretary of State considered the IDP was of little relevance when he granted permission for LCY in 1985. The site has not been used for water transport purposes for at least a decade and in my view the IDP now has no relevance to the present proposals.
12.19. The general strategy of the GLDP is to maintain London's position as the capital of the nation, the centre for international trade and one of the world's great cities, to foster the commercial and industrial prosperity of London, and to create a physical environment and a social and economic framework which will conserve and improve standards of life in London. The requirements of the individual Londoner are set out and include a home set in an acceptable environment, a choice of jobs, and the opportunity to partici-pate in creating an environment which will attain the requirements of civilized living, including satisfactory standards of daylighting, safety, quietness, privacy and neighbourliness. The plan includes policies aimed at providing favourable conditions for prosperous employment. Beckton/ Canning Town within Newham are listed in Table 3 as preferred locations for industry. Reference is made to studies of the docklands with a view to redevelopment and the intention to plan new developments for new life and new work in the obsolescent docklands areas.
12.20. Paragraph 12.5 of the GLDP deals with aircraft noise and states that ideally new residential development should not take place in areas where the residents would be exposed to significant levels of aircraft noise in their homes or their gardens and that regard will be had to the guidance published by the Department of the Environment on planning and noise and in particular to Circular 10/73. Reference is made to the development of short take off and landing air services provided that the environmental effects are taken fully into account.
12.21. The People's Plan, the statutory local plan for the London Borough of Greenwich, adopted in April 1989, includes Thamesmead. Thamesmead land near the east bank of the River Thames to the east of LCY is proposed for housing, Metropolitan Open Land (Tripcock Park), and community open space (Riverside Promenade).
12.22. The London Borough of Newham Council (LBN) is the plan making authority for the area of the appeal site. LBN published the deposit version of the South Docklands Local Plan in September 1985. The plan was not proceeded with further and is in abeyance pending the preparation of the Unitary Development Plan for Newham. The applications site is shown as a Stolport on the Proposals Map.
12.23. LDDC is the development control authority for London Docklands. LDDC published 2 non statutory plans for the Royal Docks Area. The Draft Development Framework for the Royals Docks Area was published in 1985. The Plan refers to the proposed Stolport as providing a renewed international role for the Royals, to the Public Safety Zones and to the 40 NNI boundary which is stated as marking the threshold within which housing is not encouraged.
12.24. The Royal Victoria Dock (South) and Thames Barrier Lands Interim Master Plan and Development Framework Public Consultation Document was published in July 1989. The Plan states that the Royals can play a major part in the economic growth of the East Thames Corridor which will also benefit from European Links (Channel Tunnel, London City Airport) and that they have the potential to become a major urban development with a new identity as 'the Water City of the 21st century'. The Plan refers to development that has been carried out including some 4,000 homes, community facilities, district shopping and retail warehousing at Beekton since 1981, and to the established London City Airport. Proposals for the area referred to include airport related business use and housing to the south of King George V Dock; a major regional shopping centre, business park, marina and leisure facilities and housing on the north side of King George V Dock; the Londondome, a major regional facility to provide a 23,000 seat multi-use arena and up to 20,000 sq metres of exhibition space together with a mixed development of housing, retail, leisure and hotels on the north side of the Royal Albert Dock; and adjoining the Master Plan Area to the west, the Thames Wharf and Limmo sites which lie within the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone and where proposals are being reviewed for development schemes including housing, offices, business use and industry. The Interim Master Plan indicates a wide mix of uses to the south of Royal Victoria Dock.
Economic Benefits of the Proposals
12.25. At present LCY provides some 473 jobs; some 56% of employees live within a 5 mile radius of the airport. The applicants envisage that the expanded airport, with a throughput of some 1.5M passengers per year, may lead to the creation of an additional 225 jobs, about 25 more than would be the case if the airport were fully expanded under the existing permission. There would be additional Taxi employment and additional use of public transport and the River Bus. I consider that the provision of this employment, while not an overriding factor, is nevertheless an important consideration in an area of relatively high unemployment.
12.26. The London Planning Advisory Committee, the Docklands Consultative Committee and others have argued that there is no hard evidence to suggest that an expanded airport would aid the regeneration of the Royal Docks area or have an important catalytic effect in attracting new development and employment, and that no businesses have been attracted to the area because of the airport. In my view that is not surprising as LCY has been in operation for a relatively short period, and the number of ATMs has only reached less than half the permitted level. Airports Policy refers to the beneficial consequences of airport development and airports worldwide have acted as focuses for growth. LDDC, potential developers, MPs and MEPs and many businesses and individuals have emphasised the positive effects that the airport would have on the regeneration of the Royal Docks. I consider that in the longer term there is every reason to suppose that a successful airport would play an important role in attracting business and employment to the Royal Docks and revitalising the less prosperous eastern part of the region.
12.27. LCY mainly serves the business traveller and access to the airport is being improved. The airport provides quick check in facilities and does not suffer from the congestion experienced at other airports although I accept that these advantages could be eroded to some extent if the airport is successful and attracts more passengers. I also accept that the extension of services at Stansted Airport and access improvements to that airport and Heathrow would reduce the accessibility advantages of LCY, and links to the continent will be greatly improved with the completion of the Channel Tunnel. It has also been argued that improvements to telecommunications could reduce the need for business travel. Despite all these factors and the relatively small size of LCY in relation to the principal London airports, LCY is seen as an advantage by commerce and industry and the proposals are supported by the Bank of England, the CBI and many organisations and businesses. In addition to its local regenerative effect, I consider that LCY is of importance to the business community of East London and the City and would assist to some degree in maintaining and strengthening London's international competitiveness and thus the economy of the country as a whole.
12.28. The applicants contend that LCY is at present running at a loss, would continue to do so under the present operating conditions, and would be likely to close unless the proposed expansion is permitted. Although I have not seen the financial appraisals on which that contention is based, I have no reason to doubt that large losses are being incurred, some £9.1M between 1987 and 1989 according to reports and accounts of the company and special provision of £33M was made against the airport investment and anticipated further loss in January 1990. The Docklands Consultative Committee argue both that LCY could be profitable under the present constraints and that even if the air ort were to expand doubts about its viability would remain, but they have conceded that LCY would not produce an acceptable return on even the written down value of its fixed assets. Production of the Dash 7 has ceased, it has disadvantages and is expensive to operate and although it could continue in service for a considerable time, the evidence of the airlines suggests that expansion of LCY under the present operating regime is unlikely and that its long term future is bleak. In my view the profitability of an individual company is not a land use planning matter but I consider that unless some expansion is permitted the airport is likely to close and the benefits that it could provide to Docklands and the wider economy would be lost.
12.29. LCY is situated in the flat area of Docklands and is not visible from a wide area. LDDC consider that the physical works proposed would not have a significant impact on the wider area In my view the physical changes proposed - the increase in runway pavement from 1,030m to 1,199m and the construction of starter strips, would appear as relatively minor additions that would hardly be noticeable in the context of airport, and the relocation of navigational aids and the installation of runway lighting would be equally inoffensive.
12.30. Traffic figures have been broadly agreed with LDDC and LBN and incorporate changes to the infrastructure, improvements to the roads and public transport services, and the effect of known development in the area. The figures for the existing and future generated 2 way vehicle movements are:
12.31. The local road network in the Royal Docks area is being upgraded and the work will be complete within the next 2 - 3 years. Road traffic from the airport would be less than 9% of the total flows on the roads closest to the airport, the additional traffic generated by the proposals would increase traffic by some 4% on Connaught Road which provides access to the airport, and far less on other roads. The effect of the LCY proposals on the highway network south of the Thames would be so small as to be virtually unmeasurable. I consider that the increase in road traffic generated by the proposals would be relatively small and well within the capacity of the road network, and agree with the LDDC, whose transport planners have assessed the traffic and transport implications of the proposals, that the generated traffic would not have an undue impact on the area.
12.32. There is sufficient space within the airport to cope with the additional vehicle circulation. Present car parking provision of 460 spaces is more than double the demand. The applicants' expert witness stated that there could be a requirement for 530 spaces if the present permission were fully implemented, and up to 720 spaces in the case of the expansion proposals. Additional parking is not proposed but could be accommodated to the east of the airport on land under the applicants control, or by other means. Although there was no evidence to suggest that a lack of sufficient parking provision would lead to problems, the airport is adjoined by residential areas and I consider that problems would arise if travellers or airport staff parked their cars on residential roads nearby. This potential problem is capable of resolution and I address the matter in paragraph 12.66 below.
12.33. There is widespread and understandable concern about safety in view of the location of the airport in a built up populated area, and the CAA statistics that indicate that some 60% of accidents to jet aircraft worldwide occurred on take-off/initial climb and approach/landing with consequently greater risks in areas close to the runway and in particular in the funnel zones at each end. In addition there are relatively large number of waterfowl including larger birds such as geese in the vicinity of the airport and on the aircraft flightpaths, there is no bird scaring or control beyond the airport boundary, and the lower glideslope would increase the probability of birdstrike. Although turbofan engines as fitted to the BAe 146 are not as susceptible to bird strike damage as pure jet engines they are more susceptible to such damage than engines which drive propellors.
12.34. The CAA are the statutory body concerned with the safety of aircraft operations; LCY would be required, as at present, to comply with their licensing requirements. Major exercises have been held in the past involving all the emergency services, and the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority confirm that they are satisfied that if the proposed expansion is permitted, adequate services would be provided to deal with accidents occurring within or outside the airport . The CAA were fully consulted during the preparation of the proposals; they have confirmed that the proposals are likely to meet their licensing requirements, that the size of the Public Safety Zones (PSZs) (where development that would attract great concentrations of people would be precluded) was carefully considered and would not require extension, and that the necessary Runway End Safety Areas (RESAs) would be accommodated . Airport operations would continue to be within controlled airspace and the airport would continue to use the Instrument Landing System (ILS) which is the worldwide system for achieving landings in poor visibility. At the earlier inquiry it was stated that the highly accurate MLS system would be used but the CAA confirm that it is unlikely to come into general use before 1998. The incidence of poor visibility due to fog postulated at the previous inquiry has been less than expected.
12.35. There has been a decrease in the number of birds using the bird flightpaths over the airport, bird strikes in the 3 years of operation have been below the average for airports in the UK and less than envisaged at the original LCY inquiry, and there has been no damage to aircraft or risk to the safety of flights. Heathrow Airport has large bird populations in its vicinity and these have not resulted in any accident fatalities. LCY has followed CAA guidance published in CAP 384 and the CAA confirm that bird control was satisfactory at the latest inspection by the Aviation Bird Unit, and would be increased if necessary.
12.36 The increase in ATMs would increase the risk of accidents. Based on worldwide statistics, the CAA suggest a small increase in the risk of third party fatalities within 60-3,000m of the runway ends due to landing or take--off accidents, from about 1 in 85 years for the permitted annual ATMs to about 1 in 70 years for the proposals. Outside the approach and take off funnels the risks would be much less . I heard no convincing evidence to suggest that twin engined aircraft would be less safe than four engined aircraft. When LCY was permitted it was known that the area surrounding the airport would be extensively developed and in my view the increased risk of accidents due to the increase in ATMs, the type and number of aircraft engines, and the lower glide slope would not be so great as to warrant refusal. The Assessor concurs with this conclusion.
Physical Effect on Existing and Proposed Development and Uses
12.37. Planning Authorities have a statutory duty to consult the CAA in respect of applications for development within PSZs, and in respect of development as described in the LONDON/City Safeguarding Map i.e for buildings and structures which would exceed the height limits shown on the Map, for development likely to attract birds, and for development connected with aviation use. The LONDON/City Safeguarding Map was drawn up with the possibility of expansion in mind and would not have to be altered to take account of the expansion proposals. The CAA have confirmed that there would be no additional controls on development likely to attract birds Changes to safeguarding would be local to the take off cones only; in the cones a 1:25 Obstacle Free Surface (or operational Surface) would be required in order to allow fully laden aircraft to achieve obstacle clearance in the event of an engine failure . The likely composite licensing and operational safeguarding surfaces are indicated on Document C9/9.
12.38. Planning applications for development within the PSZs are considered by the CAA on an individual basis and a recommendation is made to the local planning authority. All development is discouraged in the inner zones (the first 300m nearest the runway at LCY). Long term carparks, outdoor recreation or water sports, including car parks and changing rooms to support such leisure activities, may be considered acceptable in the outer zones provided that there are no great concentrations of people. The existing PSZs, which encompass land beyond the airport boundary, would not be extended and I have no reason to suppose that the proposals would result in any additional curtailment of development or activity, including the present recreational use of the docks, within the zones.
12.39. Five existing mill buildings to the west of LCY would penetrate the Obstacle Free Surface and the proposals could not be implemented without a reduction in their height. The CWS Silo, the Dalgety-Spillers Grain Hopper, and the Premier Mill building between the CWS and Millenium Mills would have to be reduced in height or demolished. These buildings are not in use and are not proposed for retention in the Interim Master Plan and Development Framework for the Royal Victoria Dock (South). The CWS Mill is vacant but is proposed for retention in the Interim Master Plan. Its roof levels would have to be slightly altered but the necessary minor alterations would not affect its refurbishment and reuse. The Millenium Mill, which is used for storage and the transfer of food goods, would have to be slightly reduced in height, but that would not affect its use. The buildings are not listed and are not in a conservation area, the LDDC have agreed to the demolition or alterations and I consider that their demolition or alteration would not be objectionable.
12.40. The main tower of Canary Wharf is at present under construction some 4.5km to the west of LCY. The planned height of the tower has been reduced to ensure that it would not inhibit the expansion of LCY. The building will penetrate the 1:20 surface but following detailed discussion, the CAA have confirmed that there would be no conflict with the the proposed expansion of the airport. No other existing buildings would be affected.
12.41. There are numerous proposals for the development of sites around LCY, some of which have planning permission. The Roval Albert Dock Development Company, former prospective developers of a shopping centre proposed on Site 12 to the east of the airport, were concerned that the height of their development could have been affected. They now consider that the proposed starter strip would be acceptable and fully support the proposals. There have been no objections from the LDDC or from prospective developers on the grounds that their development may be affected by possible height restrictions, and in my view the height of future developments on the sites surrounding the airport are unlikely to be unduly hindered by the proposed composite safeguarding surfaces.
12.42. At present no ships are allowed in the Albert or King George V Dock during LCY operational hours. If a ship has to be transitted from the Thames through the lock entrance of the King George V Dock to the Victoria Dock that would be done at night outside operational hours as at present. I consider that'the proposals would not significantly affect the movement of shipping.
12.43. The proposed expansion of the airport could be affected by some of the designs for the proposed ELRC Bridge. At present aircraft taking off to the east from runway 10 climb straight ahead. As the ELRC Bridge now proposed by the Department of Transport and perhaps other proposed development to the east of the airport would become accountable obstacles and may restrict the allowable take-off weight of aircraft, in the future aircraft would carry out a 2.50 turn to the right immediately after take-off, sufficient to move the obstacle accountable area away from the bridge. Subject to that manoeuvre, the design of the box girder bridge now proposed in the Draft A406 London North Circular Trunk Road (East London River Crossing) (A13 to A2) No.2 Bridge Order 19.. does not conflict with any of the criteria relevant to the licensing or the commercial operation of the airport. The alternative bridge design suggested by Stanhope Properties PLC - the Calatrava Bridge - would be no higher than the proposed box girder bridge and would similarly not affect LCY operations.
12.44. The applicants contend that the Calatrava Bridge would be more likely to degrade the quality of the ILS beam than the proposed box girder bridge and if that occurred the decision heights for approaching aircraft would be raised from about 380 ft to 490 ft, and the airport would be unavailable for use on an increased number of occasions when the cloud base was below the decision height. However, the effect of various bridge designs on navigation aids is uncertain, and other relatively large buildings may be constructed to the east of the airport which may have a similar effect on navaids. In my view even if the quality of the ILS beam were degraded, the effect on LCY's operations would not be so great as to warrant unduly influencing the choice of a particular design for the ELRC bridge.
12.45. If the original cable-stayed bridge design included in the Draft A406 London North Circular Trunk Road (East London River Grossing) etc. Order were implemented, the height of the suspension towers would prevent aircraft operating out of LCY on a 5 ½ degree glideslope and would thus prevent the proposed expansion of LCY; LCA have formally objected to that design at the concurrent ELRC inquiries. The cable-stayed bridge design was widely regarded as being of considerable merit and was commanded by the Inspector following the 1985-6 inquiries and there have been many objections on the grounds that the future expansion of LCY has resulted in the proposal for an aesthetically inferior box girder bridge. At the concurrent Highways Inquiries, at which I acted as Assessor, there were more than 6,000 objections to the design of the proposed box girder bridge, and the Calatrava Bridge design was preferred. In my view although visually inferior to the cable-stayed bridge design, the proposed box girder bridge would be a distinctive and impressive structure within the inherent limitations imposed by the type of construction. I consider that the designs of both the box girder bridge and the Calatrava Bridge indicate that bridges of high visual quality could be constructed without inhibiting the future expansion of the airport.
Air and Water Pollution
12.46. The subject of pollution was examined at the 1983 inquiry but objectors such as the Greater London Council and the London Borough of Newham Council accepted that pollution would not be a problem, and the subject was not mentioned in the conclusions of the Inspector or in Secretary of State's decision letter. Pollution has been given greater attention in recent years and Government Policy is directed towards its greater control.
12.47. There would be an increase in pollution both as a result of operations by different types of aircraft and the proposed 21% increase in ATMs. Based on a mix of aircraft types, the annual quantity of the mass emissions from aircraft of the principal pollutants, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen, would increase substantially from 52.18 to 126.3 tonnes and 14.15 to 46.33 tonnes respectively. Annual emissions of unburnt hydrocarbons would not increase significantly, from 19 to 20.66 tonnes. There would also be an increase in benzene emissions.
12.48. LCY is situated in a populated area and objectors expressed grave concern about the harmful effects of the additional pollution on health. Although any pollution is undesirable, the expert evidence suggests that concentrations of unburnt hydrocarbons would be likely to be reduced, and the emissions of carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen would be rapidly dispersed by the aircraft engines. The concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air beyond the apron area would be unlikely to be significantly greater than at present, and the emissions of oxides of nitrogen predominantly occur as an aircraft takes off and are rapidly dispersed along the runway and the climb path. Levels of some 1.4 ppm of carbon monoxide are predicted at the edge of the apron and airport buildings compared with long term occupational exposure standards published by the Health and Safety Executive of 50 ppm. Incidents of odour would be unlikely to increase and changes in air quality from emissions of additional road traffic would probably not be measurable on the road network outside the airport. Leaded and unleaded petrol contains about 2-3% benzene, and people are exposed to it whenever they fill their cars or stand in a petrol station forecourt. Aviation fuel contains some 0.02% benzene and concentrations from aircraft operations would be very low, probably of the order of less than 10ppm. The aircraft that would operate from LCY do not have the facility to dump fuel.
12.49. The surface areas of the existing airport drain into interceptors. The proposed paved areas would be constructed with storm water drainage systems similar to the existing system and connected to it. Surface water contaminated with fuel or de-icing agents would continue to be prevented from draining into the adjoining dock . I consider that the proposals would not increase the potential for water pollution.
12.50. LDDC confirm that the data indicates that the proposals would not result in a significant increase in pollution and that no objections have been raised by the London Borough of Newham Council, the statutory environmental health authority. I concur with that view and consider that the proposals would not result in unacceptable increases to the levels or concentrations of pollutants in the vicinity of the airport.
12.51. The NNI contours that would result if LCY were fully implemented in accordance with the present permission are indicated in Document C9/27. The proposals would result in an expansion of the NNI contours as indicated in Document C9/28. LCY has the advantage of being located on a former wharf and much of the area within the envisaged 35 NNI 'low annoyance' contour is water or airport land. Circular 10/73 advises that no major residential development should be allowed in areas exposed to more than 39 NNI and land envisaged for new housing lies outside the 40 NNI contour for the expanded airport.
12.52. The exposure level of existing housing immediately to the south of the airport would increase by about 5 NNI above the present permitted level and that increase would be discernable. Some existing housing and the Drew Road School, which are at present within the permitted 35 NNI contour, would be within the 40 NNI contour. Provision has been made in the Section 52 Agreement for sound insulation for those additionally affected and for those who may be additionally affected in the future including Storey Street School; those within the 35 NNI contour, including the Drew Road School, have already been insulated. There have been relatively few objections from local residents, and several support the proposals.
12.53. The surrounding development sites shown on Document B107 would experience increases in noise levels. Parts of 5 sites would experience levels above 40 NNI but none would be above 50 NNI. The Royal Albert Dock and Albert Basin Scheme encompasses a site of some 85ha (Sites 11-14). Outline planning consent was granted in August 1988 for a phased development including a 139,000 sq m regional shopping centre with up to 9,000 car parking spaces initially, a leisure and marina development of up to 55,760 sq m, and Bl business space of 232,000 sq m in the form of 3 business villages on the north side of the dock (Sites 11-13), and 360 residential units and a recreation and tennis centre at Gallions Point (Site 14). Noise levels are forecast to reach 42NNI in parts of the areas closest to the runway north of Royal Albert Dock (Site 11) and the Royal Albert Dock Basin (Site 12); those sites have permission for Bl business and retail uses respectively and such uses would not conflict with the advice in Circular 10/73. The highest levels, up to 48NNI, are forecast in the Royal Albert Dock Basin where a marina and leisure development is envisaged (Site 13). The former developers of these sites, the Royal Albert Dock Development Company and Stanhope Properties PLC, fully support the proposed expansion of LCY.
12.54. The Gallions Point site (Site 14) is the subject of a planning application for a mixed development of 800 residential units, 4,645 sq m retail/restaurant use, 4,645 sq m commercial use, a 200 bedroom motel, 12 live/work units, doctors' and dentists' surgeries, riverside walkways and open space (8.8). That site would be beyond the predicted 35 NNI contour. Unex Group, the owners, support the principle of expansion for business flights but not for holiday charter use. In particular they object to the proposed increase in ATMs and hours of operation at weekends on the grounds that the interests of future residents would be affected.
12.55. Areas of potential new development to the north and south of the Royal Victoria Dock would experience noise levels above 35 NNI and a relatively small area to the south of Royal Victoria Dock east of the Pontoon Dock would experience noise levels above 40 NNI. The Royal Victoria Dock (North) Scheme on the north side of the dock (Site 22) encompasses a site of some 57 ha. Outline planning consent was granted in October 1988 for a phased development including 1,747 residential units, 26,000 sq m of retail leisure and community floorspace, 210,000 sq m of business accommodation and the Londondome. Detailed planning approval was granted in January 1990 for the first phase of the Londondome development - an indoor arena seating 20,000 people, a 24,000 sq m exhibition centre, and 4,500 car parking spaces The Royal Victoria Dock Development Partnership, prospective master developers, strongly support the proposals.
12.56. The Royal Victoria Dock (South) Scheme encompasses a site of some 50 ha (Site25). LDDC, who strongly support the proposed expansion of LCY, envisage that development sites of some 4 - 5 ha will be marketed in phases over the next 10 years, and sites have been identified for residential, retail, leisure, commercial and amenity uses (8. 10) . The relatively small area to the east of the Pontoon Dock that would experience noise levels above 40 NNI is shown in the Interim Master Plan as being for mainly mixed Bl business use and a landscaped carpark and would not conflict with the criteria of Circular 10/73.
12.57. Future aircraft ground noise would be unlikely to be significantly greater than at present. The area closest to the apron is protected by soundproofing of properties to the north of Drew Road, and by the long high noise barrier produced by the terminal buildings and the noise barrier connecting the main building with the Customs House and Airport Fire Station to the west. Road traffic noise level L10(18hour)dB(A) would increase by less than 2 on the airport access road and less than 1 on other roads, and the increase would be imperceptible I consider that aircraft ground noise would not give rise to any significant additional disturbance compared with the full implementation of the existing permission, and that the additional volume of road traffic would not create any noise problems.
12.58. Many objectors consider that LCY has had a blighting effect on development in the Royal Docks and that the proposed expansion would further discourage potential developers. In my view the evidence does not support that contention. With the exception of some Housing Associations who have objected, developers and potential developers of sites in the immediate vicinity of LCY and in the wider area of Docklands support the proposals and the presence of an expanded airport is seen as a positive advantage.
12.59. Near LCY the typical perceived noise levels 300m from the aircraft path are:
The BAe 146 and some of the twin turbo-prop aircraft are generally no noisier in landing, taxiing or manoeuvring than the Dash 7 but are up to twice as noisy on take off.
12.60. I consider that the most serious consequence of the proposals in terms of its effect on people who live and work in the area at present or who may do so in the future would be the increase in noise caused by the operation of aircraft that are noisier on take-off, by the proposed increase in operating hours, by the proposed increase in ATMs on weekends and Public and Bank Holidays, and to a lesser extent by the reduction in glide slope The yearly and weekday increase in the number of aircraft movements would not in themselves give rise to serious additional disturbance. The yearly increase in aircraft movements proposed would increase the Noise and Number Index (NNI) at any given point by 1.3 which would not be discernable to the average person. The peak ATMs that the airport can accommodate, a maximum of some 14 per hour, would not change and a maximum increase in 10 movements over the operating day would not be readily discernable.
12.61. The reduction in glideslope from 7½ to 5½ degrees would reduce the height of landing aircraft in the final approach and the increase of 4 PNdB would be perceptible. However, some aircraft are suggested to produce some 3dB less landing noise on a lower glideslope; if this occurs in practice there would be little difference in noise levels between the 2 glideslopes. Beyond the final approach the increase in landing noise due to the lower glideslope would not in my view be significant. Departure noise would be significantly increased.
12.62. Aircraft noise that may be acceptable in a busy location such as a town centre becomes very intrusive when heard in a quieter environment or at otherwise quiet times. LDDC earlier considered that there should be no increase in weekend flights and no scheduled flights after 2200 hours in the interests of surrounding residents and development sites and there are a large number of people living in the area surrounding the airport and more housing is planned. At present residents know that aircraft do not operate into or out of LCY after 2200 hours and not before 0900 hours on Sundays, and Bank and Public Holidays. In my view the proposals for unrestricted landings and some departures until 2300 hours would be unaccept-ably intrusive, but in order to accommodate delayed aircraft an absolute limit of 2230 hours would not be unreasonable provided that a limit is placed on such movements. Additional movements on weekends and Bank and Public Holidays when residents wish to enjoy their leisure activities would also be unaccept-able. The airport mainly serves business travellers and while the benefits to those travellers and the economy of the UK in my view warrants the additional noise that people in the area would have to suffer, the additional use of the airport for leisure travel cannot be supported. Many Bank and Public Holidays in the UK do not coincide with those on the continent and I accept that there are business travellers who wish to travel on those days. However, I consider that the convenience of additional flights for those who wish to travel on Bank and Public Holidays does not outweigh the harm that would be caused to residents who would in any event suffer from increased noise on those days due to the departure of noisier aircraft.
12.63. The predicted 35NNI contour to the east of LCY reaches the south bank of the Thames at Thamesmead . Although noise on the riverbank and Tripcock Park to the east would be increased, the area within the 35 NNI contour is very small and I consider that planned residential and recreational uses would not be unduly affected. Waterfield School is directly under the approach flightpath and would experience some increase in noise levels but the school is not directly under the departure flightpath would be unlikely to be seriously affected by the noise of departing aircraft. Although the expansion proposals are opposed by the London Borough of Greenwich they are supported by the Board of Thamesmead Town and Thamesmead Advisory Forum.
12.64. Many air routes traverse south east London, and residential areas south of the Thames suffer from approach flights to Heathrow, helicopters, and air traffic from Biggin Hill; LCY aircraft form a small proportion of that traffic. Aircraft approaching LCY runway 10 sometimes overfly residential areas south of the Thames at heights no lower than 1,500 feet above the runway level, and would continue to do so in the future, but approaches to runway 28 and departures from both runways do not normally overfly those areas, and would not normally do so in the future. Landings on runway 10 occur some 30% of the time when the wind is generally from the east. With a proposed maximum increase of 10 ATMs per day on weekdays, the maximum weekday increase over those areas would be 5 landing approaches per day and I consider that the additional disturbance to areas such as Blackheath and Eltham would be negligible. However, the proposed weekend and Bank and Public Holiday ATM increases and the extension of operating hours could be disturbing in these relatively quiet residential areas.
12.65. The applicants and local planning authority have agreed conditions that they consider appropriate and a Section 52 Agreement has been sealed by the PLA, John Mowlew and Company PLC, LCA, LDDC and LBN (Document B79). The applicants accept that the matters covered in the Section 52 Agreement could, if considered appropriate, be incorporated as conditions. The Agreement includes, inter alia, provisions restricting the use of the airport by reference to Noise Reference Levels and Noise Factors (para.4 & First Schedule); regulating the hours of operation (para.5); the location for ground running of engines and noise protection measures (para.6); training and test flying (para.7); the use of the airport (para.8); type of aircraft (para.9); prohibiting club and recreational flying and aircraft other than fixed wing (para.10); the provision of starter strips (para.11); prohibiting the submission of planning applications for or the construction of a taxiway or an extension to the runway (paras.12 & 13); servicing and membership of the Joint Consultative Committee (para.14 & Second Schedule); the provision of noise barriers and noise insulation and ventilation works to properties beyond the airport (paras.15, 16 & Third Schedule); the provision of ground power units (para.17); the provision of a four point noise monitoring system and a Noise Management Scheme (para.18 & Fourth Schedule); the maintenance of records (para.19); provisions to ensure that if there is conflict between conditions imposed by the Secretary of State and the terms of the Agreement, the conditions shall prevail (para.23); and provisions for arbitration (para.24 & Fifth Schedule).
12.66. In respect of Application No 1, I consider that the condition preventing pile driving noise in the evenings and Sundays would be reasonable and appropriate. Condition 3 requires the provision of 460 carparking spaces as at present but for the reasons set out in paragraph 12.32 above I consider that level of provision may prove inadequate in the long term. Although the applicants contend that there is no justification for imposing a more onerous condition than required by the local planning authority they have drafted a condition (Document B118) that would provide for a phased scheme of additional parking when passenger throughput reaches 700,000 per year. In my view such a condition is necessary.
12.67. In Application No 2 the conditions now proposed are the result of long negotiations with LDDC, LBN and the Developers' Group and now meet the earlier concerns of those parties. From the evidence of the applicants and the airlines it is-clear that they consider the most important aspects of the proposals to be the operation of different types of aircraft and the increase in ATMs. The applicants claim that other aspects of the proposed operating regime are also vital to their interests, but for the reasons set out in paragraph 12.62 above I consider that the number of ATMs on weekends and Public and Bank holidays should not be increased, that ATMs on Bank and Public Holidays should not commence before 0900 hours, and that a limit of 2230 hours be placed on both incoming and outgoing flights that were scheduled to take off or land before 2200 hours and have suffered unavoidable delays. Air traffic control problems are becoming worse and the additional operations beyond 2200 hours are mainly required to avoid aircraft being unable to fly because of delays, to allow flexibility in the use of aircraft and to position aircraft at the end and beginning of the day . In my view it would be prudent to place a limit on such delayed departures of 400 ATMs per year and 150 ATMs in any consecutive 3 months, as suggested by the applicants and a similar limit on arrivals.
12.68. The noise monitoring and categorisation scheme as set out in proposed Condition 12 has been agreed with the LDDC, LBN, CAA and is supported by developers; in my view it would be satisfactory. The noisiest phase of operations would be monitored and there would be no need to have additional noise monitoring points at Thamesmead or elsewhere. The principal mechanism for controlling maximum noise events would be the operation of the noise management scheme which is to be agreed with LDDC and LBN in accordance with the provisions of the Section 52 agreement. Although objectors contend that the details of that scheme should be agreed before the proposals are permitted, I consider that agreement on the scheme may be left to the Section 52 parties.
12.69. The Section 52 Agreement and the conditions I have suggested would ensure that the effects of the additional noise resulting from the proposals would not be excessive, and the conditions I have suggested are in my view reasonable and necessary if the proposed development is to be permitted. I consider that the other numerous conditions suggested by objectors would not be necessary.
12.70. The expansion of the airport would be of benefit to the economy of east London and the City. It would assist in the regeneration of Docklands and in redressing the imbalance between west and east London. To that extent the proposals accord with policies and plans for the area. There are however disadvantages, most notably the increase in noise levels and the effect on the design of ELRC. The increase in noise would be most significant in residential areas in the vicinity of the airport but would be unlikely to deter the redevelopment of sites in the Royal Docks or the implementation of proposals in Thamesmead to the east. The visually superior cable stayed bridge originally proposed for ELRC would be prevented but other bridge proposals, while somewhat inferior, could nevertheless be of high visual quality. I agree with the DCC and others that the Royal Docks is not an appropriate location for an airport that provides a wide range of services to the general public, but on balance I consider that if the airport continued to cater mainly for the business sector and its operations were strictly controlled, the disadvantages of the proposed expansion would be outweighed by the benefits.
12.71. I recommend that the applications be allowed and planning permissions be granted subject to the standard conditions relating to the duration of the permissions, and subject to the conditions and limitations I have indicated in my conclusions at paragraphs 12.66-12.68 above.
I have the honour to be
Your obedient Servant
An independent Consultative Committee established by London City Airport pursuant to Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982
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