A total of 17,846 passengers passed through London City Airport at the tail-end of last month – its busiest ever day – just as a planning inspector was hearing the last evidence on whether to allow redevelopment of the Docklands hub.
The planning appeal has now closed and it centred on the extent to which residents surrounding the airport should be compensated for noise disturbance.
Neither supporters or opponents – the airport on one hand and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson on the other – were disputing that the number of flights should increase to meet demand, a decision which has already been confirmed.
The importance of relieving that pressure point was underscored, say LCY, by new research that shows that the airport enables £11billion of European trade.
Analysts Oxford Economics say research shows that 5% of all UK exports to key European markets are associated with LCY trips.
The findings come at the same time as a ComRes survey showed:
• 73% of London’s business decision makers supporting LCY’s proposals for expansion according to a new ComRes survey.
• 82% agree that more aviation capacity in the south east is necessary for business growth, with more than half saying more capacity will be needed in the short-term.
• 55% think that a short-term capacity solution is needed before 2029 – with 2030 the deadline which the Government has set for a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow.
Chief executive Declan Collier said: “The report and survey prove that our expansion would provide clear benefits for the UK economy and that there is a huge appetite among key business leaders.
“If we get the green light, we can start delivering extra capacity within 18 months, meeting this demand and increasing our contribution to the economy.”
The 11-day planning inquiry follows the Mayor of London’s direction to refuse London City Airport planning permission in March 2015, despite approval for the plans by Newham Council.
Alongside the mayor, objecting to the scheme, campaigners Hacan East made representations.
The group told planning inspector at the City Hall: “Many of the people in the area don’t have the choice of moving away. They are, therefore, dependent on the airport guaranteeing effective compensation and mitigation in order to make their lives more bearable, and on Newham Council making sure it is delivered.
Hacan East’s John Stewart said: “Our view is that no resident, whether they are homeowner or in council or social housing, should suffer an unfair financial burden because of this failure to offer proper mitigation.”
Hacan East conceded that LCY’s some of the compensation measures “are more extensive than at other airports” but said “given its location in the middle of a densely populated area of London, it is difficult to see how the airport would have been allowed to get away with much less.”
It argued that LCY had the airport had failed in the past to meet its compliance obligations and that Newham Council should be more rigorous in holding the airport to account for lapses.
The City Airport Development Programme (CADP) proposals include seven new aircraft stands, a parallel taxiway and terminal extensions to the west and to the east, which would enable up to 6.5million passengers by 2025.