London City Airport: lies, damn lies, and airport expansion!
London City Airport (LCA) is a small airport with big ideas. It submitted an application to expand flights by 50%; another application (due in June) will take flights to 176,000 by 2010. LCA claims to have brought prosperity to Newham but walking from North Woolwich to Silvertown shows no sign of it: roaring jets over head, no open spaces for recreation, a poor bus service, streets full of derelict buildings and a constant stream of taxis and chauffeur driven cars bound for the airport. The 'prosperity' LCA is so proud of arrives and departs in a car, leaving nothing for Newham residents - apart from the fumes and noise and inconvenience.
London City Airport and Newham Council claim to have carried out "extensive consultations", but many residents who live in the Royal Docks and surrounding areas have no idea about the expansion plans. They claim that the 50% increase in flights would only affect a very small area - wishful thinking, as the expansion will extend the noise contours over 26,000 residents in east and south-east London. Newham already has the worst housing shortage in the country and the highest asthma mortality levels in under 30s in the whole of the country - how much more suffering can the Council heap on it's constituents?
London city airport spent months telling residents that 50% more flights wouldn't increase the noise levels, but late last year they finally admitted that they'd been lying. They're now pacifying residents by claiming if they lived in the 57db contour they would get help through the LCA noise management progamme. What LCA don't tell residents is that only properties built or given planning permission before 1990 are eligible for help. Those built after 'might' be elgible for mechanized ventilation. Even the contours are dodgy estimates after LCA conveniently let the batteries run out on in the noise meters.
Fight The Flights has consistently demanded accurate information and ruthlessly picked apart the airport's spin. LCA have obviously got fed up with our scrutiny delaying the expansion their shareholders AIG, Credit Suisse and GE are crying out for that they've hired Hill & Knowlton PR as their spin doctors. H&K have a colourful past - denying that tobacco causes cancer, helping Scientology clean up its image and exagerating the extent of the ozone layer's depletion to sell sun-tan lotion. It's no coincidence that since they were hired an LCA employee has set up a blog systematically attacking anyone who objects to London City's right to expand.
The campaign against LCA's expansion has obviously gained more support than they had envisaged. But will employing H&K to push expansion through really help the airport's image? We're looking forward to a summer of fun once H&K step up the spin - who knows what nonsense they'll conjure up to support their case? Our money is on a false campaign group supporting expansion - lets hope that Newham check the names and addresses of any letters of support they receive!