London City Airport should prioritise the wellbeing of residents over profit in any changes to flight patterns, the London Assembly has said.
City Hall’s Environment Committee submitted evidence to the airport’s public consultation on Monday, highlighting the risks from plane noise.
The central London airport’s Draft Master Plan lays out plans for expansion up to 2035. City wants 40,000 more flights a year to meet growing demand.
Although it is London’s smallest airport, passenger numbers have grown 40% in the last five years, with a record five million predicted for 2019.
Bought by a Canadian consortium for £2billion in 2016, the airport is increasingly expanding from business flights into the leisure market.
But residents are concerned the draft plans will mean an end to the 24-hour respite period at weekends – the plan says the airport is considering “adjustments to restrictions at weekends”.
Almost 750,000 people are currently overflown by City Airport planes at below 4,000ft, the range at which the Civil Aviation Authority prioritises noise pollution from flights.
According to the World Health Organisation, noise above 45 decibels is harmful to humans – but around City Airport noise averages up to 75 decibels, and can go over 100.
Caroline Russell, chair of the London Assembly’s environment committee, said there was “concerning evidence” that plane noise impacts Londoners quality of life.
She said: “There are areas of south east London that do not get any respite from the noise pollution that comes from living under a concentrated flight path.
“The damaging effect of aircraft noise on Londoners’ lives can no longer be ignored. Len Duvall, Labour Assembly Member for Greenwich and Lewisham, said narrow flight paths out of the airport were causing “misery” for residents.
He said: “There must now be a change of practice from City Airport, flight operators and the relevant government agencies to address this issue.”
Alan Haughton, a Blackwall resident and campaigner with Hacan East, a group opposing the airport expansion, welcomed London Assembly’s “brave” stance in support of locals.
He said: “Most residents will put up with the airport noise to an extent but they know that come Saturday afternoon they get a break – they can go for a walk, they can sit out on their gardens, it’ll be quiet.
“Anyone living under that flight path will be relentlessly impacted from what we have today let alone with extra flights. For many people their lives will be unliveable under that kind of pressure of noise.”
Mr Haughton said City should use larger planes to bring in more passengers, but should not be allowed to land more aircraft.
But a spokesperson for the airport stressed that plans were not finalised, and all views expressed in the consultation would be considered.
He said demand for air travel was continuing to grow, but City was taking steps to minimise the impact of noise on local residents.
He said: “As London’s most central airport, we know we have a responsibility to be a good neighbour, which is exactly why we are participating in this airspace modernisation programme, which is anticipated to result in quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys.”