Biggin Hill Airport longer hours

Bromley Council backs Biggin Hill Airport longer hours – as it happened

SUMMARY

  • - Special full council meeting at 7pm in the Civic Centre’s Great Hall where Bromley councillors will debate whether to allow Biggin Hill Airport longer operating hours
  • - Bromley Council’s executive will make the final decision immediately after the debate, also in the Great Hall
Most Recent
11:26pm

Coun Carr, Coun Morgan, Coun Fortune and Coun Arthur voted in favour.

Coun Lymer, Coun Evans and Coun Smith voted against.

That concludes tonight’s live blog but we’ll be bringing you all the reaction on the council’s decision to back the airport’s bid for longer hours tomorrow.

To share your thoughts email harriet.collier@london.newsquest.co.uk, call07787273806 or tweet @HattyCollier.

11:07pm

News Shopper:

Bromley Council’s executive have voted 4-3 in favour of Biggin Hill Airport’s longer hours.

10:59pm

It’s now four hours since the full council meeting began and it’s not clear how close the executive are to making the final decision.

10:57pm

Coun Morgan has said the longer hours will attract big name businesses to the airport, but this won’t necessarily increase the number of flights.

10:55pm

Coun Graham Arthur on the airport’s expansion and its impact on the environment: “It’s all very well to be clean and green but I would also like to flourish.”

10:51pm

The executive is discussing the “reasonableness” of Biggin Hill Airport and the council during lease negotiations.

Coun Carr said: “We are a serious council.

“Biggin Hill Airport have been reasonable in dealing with the conditions that we have set out.”

He said that so far, he does not see that either party has been unreasonable during any negotiations that have taken place.

10:39pm

Coun Carr is discussing the concerns raised over the alleged manipulation of the council’s public consultation results.

He said the consultation results have been “muddied”, and that he is satisfied the results were not manipulated, despite anomalies.

10:34pm

The executive is discussing fines for the airport if an aircraft landed outside the agreed hours.

Coun Carr has just said: “I don’t want to give the impression that that we are soft on monitoring enforcement, which I am not.”

Several people in the public gallery jeered in disapproval at this comment.

Coun Carr added that the council has to recognise that aircraft should be able to land in an emergency.

10:28pm

News Shopper:

Coun Kate Lymer, who voted against extended hours for the airport at a meeting in March, has said she believes the proposals should be refused.

She said: “This level of noise at 6.30 in the morning and 11pm at night is incredibly disruptive, particularly in summer when families are trying to sleep with their windows open.”

10:20pm

Bromley Council’s executive is made up of:

– Leader Coun Stephen Carr (Bromley Common and Keston)

– Coun Peter Fortune (Hayes and Coney Hall)

– Coun Robert Evans (Farnborough and Crofton)

– Coun Colin Smith (Bickley)

– Coun Peter Morgan (Plaistow and Sundridge)

– Coun Kate Lymer (Bickley)

– Coun Graham Arthur (Hayes and Coney Hall)

10:14pm

The executive meeting is underway.

10:08pm

There’s a short break before the executive’s meeting, when a final decision will be made.

9:52pm

Twenty-nine councillors have voted in favour of the motion recommending the council grants Biggin Hill Airport’s extended hours and an amendment to its lease.

Nineteen councillors voted against and 10 abstained, meaning the motion has been passed.

9:47pm

News Shopper:

Summing up, Coun Nicholas Bennett said the motion would be “good for Biggin Hill, good for Bromley and good for Britain.”

Councillors will now vote on the motion.

9:44pm

News Shopper:

Coun Simon Fawthrop, who represents Petts Wood and Knoll and has always been vocal about his opposition to extended hours at the airport, has urged councillors to vote against the motion.

He said: “You can’t make one person’s quality of life better by making someone else’s quality of life worse.”

Coun Tony Owen, who represents Petts Wood and Knoll, has also encouraged councillors to reject the motion.

9:34pm
Here’s a photo from Coun Michael Rutherford showing how packed tonight’s meeting really is.
9:16pm

To recap some key points on what’s happened so far this evening:

– The meeting heard several questions put to Coun Morgan and Coun Carr from members of the public

– Orpington MP Jo Johnson – who asked a question on behalf of himself and Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill – repeated concerns raised by community groups that the council’s public consultation into plans for extended operating hours at the airport was manipulated

– Coun Benington and Coun Bennett put forward a motion recommending the council grant Biggin Hill Airport’s extended hours and an amendment to its lease

– Councillors began to debate the motion

– Several councillors have put forward strong arguments against the motion including Coun Evans, Coun Stevens and Coun Michael

– Bromley borough’s Labour councillors are supporting the extension of the hours citing the employment opportunities and income the airport’s expansion could generate for the borough

9:06pm

We’re two hours in and there’s still quite a few councillors left to speak in the debate ahead of the executive’s final decision, which will also take place in the Great Hall at Bromley Civic Centre.

9:01pm

Coun Alexa Michael, who represents Bromley Common and Keston, has urged councillors to reject the motion, which she said will be “all pain and no gain for residents”.

8:54pm

Labour’s Coun Vanessa Allen, who represents Clock House ward, has spoken in support of the airport’s expansion.

She said the airport should be “a flagship enterprise” for the borough of Bromley, which could generate income in many ways.

Coun Allen also highlighted the employment opportunities the airport has created for the borough and said she believes the airport’s proposed aviation college will bring long term benefits for young people.

8:42pm

News Shopper:

Coun Angela Wilkins, who represents Crystal Palace and is leader of the Labour group, has said they will continue to support the airport’s bid to extend its operating hours and welcomes the proposed new runway approaches.

8:36pm

News Shopper:

Coun Robert Evans, who also represents Farnborough and Crofton and sits on the council’s executive, has described the increase in operating hours as “too high a price to pay”.

He has urged councillors to vote against.

8:29pm

Coun Tim Stevens, who represents Farnborough and Crofton ward, has just spoken – he voted against the extended hours when he was still on the executive back in March.

He has confirmed he will be voting against them again.

Reiterating concerns about the manipulation of the council’s public consulation results, Coun Stevens said: “We have now become aware that the council’s Biggin Hill surveys are frankly marginally questionable and should be ignored.”

He has urged all councillors to vote against the proposals.

Coun Stevens also said he believes the airport has “massive plans” to increase its business flights.

8:24pm

Coun Nicholas Bennett, who represents West Wickham ward, and Coun Julian Benington, who represents Biggin Hill ward, have proposed a motion recommending the council approves the hours and an amendment of the airport’s lease.

Councillors will now begin to debate.

8:11pm

Coun Carr has just commended members of community group Flightpath Watch and others, who are opposed to the airport’s plans, for remaining polite and courteous.

He said he hoped that the group and other members of the public would continue to do this throughout the meeting tonight.

One woman, who is sat in the public gallery, shouted: “Not me.”

7:56pm

Mr Johnson has just reiterated concerns raised by community groups that the council’s public consultation into plans for extended operating hours at the airport was manipulated.

The authority said its consultation showed a large percentage of residents were in favour of longer hours.

In response to this, Coun Morgan has agreed that some of the results looked “a little odd” and that “public consultations are only as good as the questions asked”.

News Shopper will be asking the council for an official response to claims the results of the consultation have been manipulated.

7:55pm

Orpington MP, Jo Johnson is asking Coun Morgan – on behalf of himself and Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst – what assurances the council will provide that the interest of residents living beneath the flight path will be properly prioritised within the decision making process.

7:48pm

Hugh Bunce is asking Coun Morgan if the council will acknowledge that preserved sleep for the borough’s residents is “a basic human right” and that this needs to be protected by retaining the hours in the current lease.

Mr Bunce is getting a huge round of applause.

7:42pm

Questions from the public still ongoing.

7:28pm

It is extremely rowdy in here – people opposed to the airport’s bid are making A LOT of noise.

7:26pm

In response to another question, Coun Morgan has said the council has been “extremely thorough” in assessing the airport’s application.

Members of the public are booing and jeering at this response.

Coun Morgan said: “We have had the best consultants and best recommendations when it comes to this application.”

More boos and jeers from some members of the public.

7:21pm

Another member of the public David Calver has asked Councillor Peter Morgan if he can be sure that increased operating hours at the airport will not affect the long term security of this country.

Lots of members of the public are laughing at Mr Calver’s question.

News Shopper:

Portfolio Holder for Renewal and Recreation, Coun Peter Morgan

Coun Morgan has replied saying the longer hours will not impact on national security.

7:15pm

Bethany Russel, from Biggin Hill, is asking council leader Stephen Carr if he is aware that there are overseas aircraft service companies considering investing at Biggin Hill Airport if the operating hours are approved.

Coun Carr replies: “I do not have first hand knowledge although I have been informed that this is the case by the airport management.”

7:13pm

Questions from the public have now begun.

7:04pm

The Great Hall is packed with members of the public – probably the busiest council meeting I’ve seen.

7:02pm

Seems to be increased security for tonight’s meeting as I spotted a police officer on the door on my way in.

7:01pm

It’s Hatty here, bringing you live updates from a full Bromley Council meeting where councillors will debate Biggin Hill Airport’s bid to extend its operating hours.

The council’s executive will make a final decision on the bid, immediately after the full meeting. This will also take place in the Great Hall.

5:33pm

News Shopper reporter Hatty Collier will be back at 7pm with live updates from the full council meeting.

5:31pm

And here’s a table of the council’s public consultation responses by ward.

News Shopper:

5:30pm

Public consultation

Bromley Council claims some 31,500 people, out of 41,711 who responded to its largest ever public consultation, supported the airport’s proposals.

The council’s consultation, which ran from January to March, gave residents a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ choice on whether they support the plans.

The results supported the airport’s own consultation findings in October last year and an independent opinion poll carried out by the Populus market research agency.

Here’s a map of the council’s consultation responses by ward.

News Shopper:

5:26pm

Residents’ concerns

Some residents, including community group Flightpath Watch, are concerned the extended hours and flight path changes will bring bigger business jets and noisier aircraft to the borough.

Last week a spokesperson for the group told News Shopper: “Any new GPS route is a requirement for a commercial airport, not a benefit for the residents.

“It will bring more noisy business jets and larger aircraft to the borough.

“Our greatest concern is that noise at unsocial hours is detrimental to the well being of residents and their productivity at work or school.

“Flight paths are important, but are a secondary consideration to the hours.”

Other people living in the borough fear allowing the airport to expand will eventually lead to commercial and holiday flights.

But airport managing director, Will Curtis, insists this is not the case and that extending the hours will actually prevent this from happening.

News Shopper:

Biggin Hill Airport managing director Will Curtis

In an open letter to residents published last month, he said: “You can take it from me that we don’t want scheduled or holiday airlines at Biggin Hill Airport, we don’t need new runways and we don’t want to expand beyond our existing airport boundary.

“I live in Biggin Hill, and I don’t want to see a mini-Luton type airport on my doorstep and I know that you do not want that either.”

5:24pm

Flight path changes

Last week, the airport also revealed possible changes to its flight paths as a new consultation got underway.

All flights currently approach from the north-east over Bromley borough using a GPS guidance system.

The airport claims the new system would mean around 30 to 35 per cent of current flights would not, in future, follow that route and instead “stay higher, making a direct and quieter approach from the south west”.

5:23pm

The current operating hours vs the proposed operating hours

The current operating hours are from 6.30am to 10pm from Monday to Friday and 9am to 8pm on weekends and public holidays.

The proposed extended hours are 6.30am to 11pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 10pm on weekends and public holidays.

No more than eight flights would depart or land in the first half an hour of the day from Monday to Friday, under the plans.

No more than eight flights would depart or land in the last hour of the day.

The cap of eight take off or landings at the beginning of the day is subject to a noise envelope equivalent to an annualised average of no more than two movements by an aircraft not noisier than a LEAR 35 Business Jet.

The cap of eight take off or landings at the end of the day is subject to a noise envelope equivalent to an annualised average of no more than three movements by an aircraft not noisier than a LEAR 35 Business Jet.

No flight training would take place before 9am and after 5pm at weekends as part of the airport’s Noise Action Plan.

5:19pm

Welcome to News Shopper’s live blog of Bromley Council’s final decision tonight on whether to back Biggin Hill Airport’s plans to extend its operating hours.

Councillors will debate the proposals during a full council meeting before a final decision is made by the executive immediately afterwards from 7pm, in the Great Hall at Bromley Civic Centre.

Biggin Hill Airport has bold development plans to vary its operating hours, create 2,300 jobs, open an aviation college and cut its noise footprint in half.

The local authority has published the full report into the business airport’s plans, which will be considered at tonight’s meeting.

You can read the full report here.

The council’s executive made a preliminary decision to back the airport’s plans at a meeting in March with four votes in favour to two against.

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