After a protracted fight, including a lengthy planning appeal, London City Airport can finally move ahead on its expansion.
Tellingly, it was the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, who broke the news on Wednesday (July 27) that the £344million upgrade of the Docklands hub could go ahead, underscoring the scheme’s credentials to boost the UK economy and shore up Canary Wharf and the City as the world’s premier financial district.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid were the ministers who were required to clear the scheme following an investigation by the Planning Inspectorate, which recommended approval. A verdict was not expected until the autumn but the downturn in the economy following the Brexit vote may have moved the decision up the agenda.
The plans include an extended terminal, part coverage of the Royal Victoria Docks, new aircraft taxiways, seven new plane stands and upgraded public transport accessibility. The airport already had approval to lift the number of flights from 70,000 a year to a ceiling of 110,000 a year but needed the infrastructure to support the growth and handle the next generation of aircraft.
The news broke the stranglehold on the project by former London Mayor Boris Johnson who blocked a scheme on noise nuisance grounds. Newham Borough Council had previously backed a project that will create 1,600 airport jobs, plus 500 construction jobs, and boost the UK economy by £1.5billion by 2025.
The new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, had already indicated he would look more favourably on the scheme than his predecessor who was wedded to the Thames Estuary option to tackle London's crowded skies.
A planning appeal in March gave a platform for residents to voice their concerns about noise and air quality but the Government said the airport would provide a “generous” compensation package.
Mr Hammond hailed the investment as a “vote of confidence in the resilience of our economy”.
“London City Airport’s ambitious growth plans will boost international connections, strengthening the City of London’s links to destinations across the world, and send a clear signal that Britain is open for business.
“Making it easier to visit and do business in the City of London will help drive forward our economy and further strengthen the city’s status as the world’s leading financial centre.”
London City Airport had frequently argued that there was capacity in east London to ease the congestion at Heathrow and Gatwick where a decision over expansion has been delayed time and again.