Newham council blocks London City Airport expansion amid climate change concerns.

Newham Council has thwarted an ambitious expansion proposal by London City Airport, citing concerns about noise pollution and the potential environmental impact of additional flights.

The local authority, on Monday, declined the airport's proposal to inflate its annual passenger volume from 6.5 million to 9 million. This would have necessitated an extension of operating hours, with a spike in weekend and early-morning flights.

The airport is a preferred choice for business travellers due to its convenient location close to the City of London and Canary Wharf financial districts. Despite its popularity, the airport operates within strict hours owing to its placement in a densely populated area in East London.

The proposed easing of restrictions was intended to meet the resurgent demand for air travel in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The airport had assured residents that only newer, quieter aircraft would be permitted during the extended hours.

In response to the decision, the council stated that it is dedicated to supporting residents in leading fulfilling, healthy lives and is acutely aware of the declared climate emergency.

While expressing disappointment, London City Airport is currently pondering its subsequent course of action. The airport has confidence in its proposals, emphasizing that they are meticulously balanced and optimally use the existing infrastructure.

It's worth noting that the Planning Inspectorate, a government agency, has historically overturned local decisions blocking airport expansions, as seen at London Stansted and Bristol.

The aviation industry has been actively vying for expansion approvals. Just last week, London Gatwick formally proposed plans to amplify its passenger capacity by 60 per cent. Heathrow, the busiest airport in the UK, is contemplating its own expansion project. According to the Financial Times, the country's eight major airports intend to accommodate nearly 150 million more passengers annually, marking an increase of over 60 per cent.

Environmental advocates have scrutinized the expansion of the aviation sector, questioning its compatibility with the UK's target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The industry currently lacks a commercially viable plan to reach this objective.

The government's climate change advisory body has suggested a halt on airport expansions until a national framework is developed to monitor and control sector emissions.

On the other hand, industry leaders argue that flight expansion and carbon emissions reduction are not mutually exclusive. They point towards their pledge to achieve net zero by 2050, primarily relying on less polluting, albeit expensive, alternative fuels.