LATEST: 25 July 2022
|Biggin Hill ACC & Fare-Paying Passengers-Concerns|
Flightpath Watch is aware that Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (BHAL) is preparing once again to submit an application to Bromley Council to allow fare-paying passengers, which will inevitably bring more aeroplanes to our area. As a supporter of Flightpath Watch, you will be aware that the Lease between the Council and BHAL specifically precludes fare-paying passengers and this condition remains in the Lease even after the amendments which were allowed in 2016.
Nevertheless, BHAL continues to try to overturn this clause, in spite of a High Court ruling in 2001 which upheld the Lease on this important point. At this crucial time, when the revised Noise Action Plan (NAP) is being considered by the Council and the 50,000 cap on flight movements appears to have been lost, we fear that the Council might try to compromise, when no compromise is possible.
It is very likely that we will soon ask for your help on the issues surrounding the NAP review, but, meanwhile, in this letter, we are addressing the fact that the request to the Council to allow for fare-paying passengers will be supported by Biggin Hill Airport Consultative Committee (BHACC). Flighpath Watch has for some time been aware of the bias towards the Airport within the BHACC, which is supposed to be an independent body. There are serious concerns about the independence and representation of the BHACC and we believe that its views should not influence the Council in the important decision regarding fare-paying passengers.
Please see below a link to our recent letter to the Council and also a link to a letter from the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) voicing their more general concerns about ACCs.
Click here to download Flightpath Watch letter to Leader of Bromley Council
Click here to download AEF letter
Flightpath Watch Ltd
Newsletter 11 June 2022
Many of you have noted the large Bombardier Global 7500 that circled 6 times, at speed and low level over residential areas, between 9.10 and 9.40 on 8th June 2022.
We thought we should inform you of the situation.
Training circuits are allowed at Biggin Hill Airport, however the new range of large aircraft (particularly since Bombardier set its European operations at Biggin Hill) are no longer respecting the agreed route in place when the lease was signed.
In particular, the noise-abatement route for Visual Circuits, recorded with the CAA, is illustrated in Plan B of the attached map, which was posted on BHAL’s website until April 2020, when it was suddenly and arbitrarily removed.
The purpose of this noise-abatement route was, undoubtedly, to limit circuits to open countryside and protect residential areas, particularly the ones closest to the route, that were most at risk of being overflown and are specifically mentioned.
It is important to note the sentence in the text above stating that “Aircraft unable to comply with these requirements should not plan to make use of London Biggin Hill Airport”.
Now that BHAL’s clients operate much larger aircraft, attracted here by the Council granting longer operating hours, BHAL have suggested to the Council that, providing they respect the three areas specifically mentioned, aircraft can overfly other residential and noise-sensitive areas, including the hospital. This is nonsensical. It would bring noisy, disruptive and dangerous aircraft (particularly as we now have Bombardier testing their large aeroplanes over our heads) over densely populated areas, the ones that the noise-abatement route is devised to protect.
The exact wording, contained in a CAA report provided to the Council for the Executive meeting of 12th January 2022, states, at point i): “All circuits at London Biggin Hill Airport are conducted to the West of the aerodrome (Right Hand – Runway 21, Left Hand – Runway 03. Overflight of the following Noise Sensitive Areas should be avoided, unless necessary to fulfil an ATC instruction such as to extend downwind for spacing, Keston Village The Leavesdon Estate and Leaves Green. Aircraft unable to comply with these requirements should not plan to make use of London Biggin Hill airport.”
In the five-yearly NAP Review prepared for the Executive meeting of 12th January 2022 (Section 2.9, 8b) BHAL suggest that training circuits be only restricted by hours of operation (not a flying route) and authorised by the Airport CEO (Mr Winstanley) or the Senior Air Traffic Control Officer.
A new version of the five-yearly NAP Review is due by the end of June 2022 because the first version was considered inadequate by the Council Executive on 12th January 2022. Flightpath Watch are already making representations to the Council that this suggestion should be rejected and residential areas should remain protected from circuits by large aircraft, which are dangerous, noisy, overbearing and can be frightening.
As many of you have experienced the recent circuits by a Bombardier Global 7500, and as the revised NAP Review is due by the end of this month, this is the time please to send your objections against circuits over residential areas to the Council’s Airport Monitoring Officer email@example.com, with copies to your local councillors.
Flightpath Watch Ltd
Newsletter December 2021
We can now confirm that Bromley Council’s Executive Committee will consider the Biggin Hill Airport Noise Action Plan Review in early January.
The item will first be put to the Executive, Resources and Contracts Policy Development and Scrutiny (PDS) Committee, which will meet on Wednesday 5th January 2022 at 7pm.
The Executive Committee meeting will follow on Wednesday 12th January 2022 at 7pm.
Agenda papers for these meetings will be available on the Council’s website by 23rd December2021.
Any questions submitted by the public for the previous meetings in November will be carried forward to the January meetings and you should have received notification to this effect from the Council.
The deadline for the submission of any further questions to the Scrutiny Committeeis 5pm on 29th December 2021.
The deadline for the submission of any further questions to the Executive Committee is 5pm on 6th January 2022.
Both meetings will take place in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre. We have been advised that the public will be allowed to attend, although capacity in the Council Chamber will be limited by the need to ensure that conditions are as safe as reasonably practicable for everyone. Anticipating a high attendance, the Council is going to make available overflow rooms for those who cannot be accommodated in the Chamber.
It is important the Council does not have the opportunity to infer that a low attendance implies a lack of interest or concern from residents so we would encourage you to vote with your feet and come in numbers to both meetings, subject to any further restrictions in force at the time. Whilst any final decision will be taken by the Executive Committee, it is likely they will be guided by the outcome of the Scrutiny Committee, as well as by a visible presence from residents at each meeting. For that reason we feel it equally important to attend both meetings if you can. Please do not underestimate the importance of the PDS meeting.
The Council has requested that anyone wishing to attend the meetings should inform them in advance using the following link. If you plan to come (as we hope), we suggest you book early. Please copy and paste this link to your browser to complete the request form:
Letters to your Councillors and to the Executive Committee in the weeks preceding these meetings are still extremely important. Although this is the Christmas season and we are all busy, the more we can keep our concerns front and centre with the Council, the more they will have to heed our comments. Please continue to write to:
Colin.firstname.lastname@example.org (Leader of the Council)
Christopher.email@example.com (Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee)
Matthew.firstname.lastname@example.org (Airport Monitoring Officer)
We’d like to thank you for the letters and emails you have already written to the Council and for spreading the word and distributing our leaflet amongst your neighbours, friends and family. Please continue with this effort and share the details of the meetings with as many people as you can. A new leaflet is attached with the new dates and times. It would be helpful if you could please find the time to distribute it, as you did with the previous one.
We’ve had many, many emails from you and we’ve tried to answer as many as possible. Some questions have been raised several times. You may find the following list of Frequently Asked Questions of interest:
- The response from the Council has asked for more detail about the errors and misinterpretations identified by Flightpath Watch. Is there a list I could refer to?
All Councillors were sent a copy of the Flightpath Watch response to the Noise Action Plan Review and, of course, the detail is laid out in that document, together with an Executive Summary. However, to help anyone who is writing to the Council, we have also produced the following documents, which further summarise the issues. Inevitably, some impact and accuracy is lost when attempting to reduce detail to bullet points. In any communication with the Council it is important to refer the recipients to the original Flightpath Watch document dated 8th October 2021, which they already have.
We hope this helps you in selecting the items of most importance to you when writing your letters.
- Could Flightpath Watch send its report directly to the CAA even though the Council did not themselves include it in the CAA Review?
Flightpath Watch had no knowledge until very recently of which department of the CAA had been engaged. Moreover, we were told that LBB and the CAA had a contractual relationship which did not include FPW and it would therefore not have beencorrect to interject into that process. We did, however, expect the Council to be fair and submit our document, which it did not do. Some of us met recently with the Airport Monitoring Officer (AMO) and raised the question as to why the Council had not requested our input. We were told that they were unaware of our concerns about the failure by BHAL to meet their commitments to the granting of the extended hours and which are therefore central to the questionof whether the Noise Action Plan Review can be accepted. We have reminded them that we delivered our concerns to LBB at the end of June this year, before the CAA contract had been awarded, so they had had plenty of opportunity to ensure that residents’ views were considered.
- What are the Terms of Reference for the CAA Review?
The response to our Freedom of Information Act request for the Terms of Reference has been stonewalled with the reason that they will be published with the papers for the forthcoming meetings. We have been told to expect them on December 20th (“or thereabouts”).
- What was the reason for the deferral of the item to consider the BHAL Noise Action Plan Review from the November meetings?
The AMO told us that this was because the Council were awaiting some legal advice which had not been received in time. We have no further detail of the nature of this late request for legal advice.
Other worrying news:
Flightpath Watch is extremely concerned that BHAL are going to use acceptance of their Noise Action Plan Review by the Executive Committee on January 12th as the launch point for two particular objectives, both of which have been mentioned before in our newsletters.
- The first is another attempt to amend the Permitted User Clause of the Lease to enable fare-paying passengers. We have heard BHAL’s previous assurances that they will never expand to allow companies such as Ryanair and EasyJet to operate from BHA, but by changing the Permitted User Clause (the most fundamental clause of the Lease) to allow for fare-paying passengers (which BHAL prefers to refer to as “flight share”, not highlighting the fare-paying aspect), they would be on the first step to introduce commercial airlines to the airport. As this is a Business airport, it may not be Ryanair and Easyjet to populate our skies, but there are many other airlines that could take advantage of this sea change in the Lease if the Council were to allow it to happen.
- The second concern is that they believe that the cap of 50,000 on the number of flight movements each year was not imposed permanently by Bromley Council and can now revert to the original limit of 125,000. It has been reported to us that over the next five years they plan to expand from 54,000 to 125,000. As these are no longer small hobby aeroplanes, this is very detrimental for residents.
We also need to bring to your attention the fact that the minutes of the Biggin Hill Airport Consultative Committee meeting held on 28th October 2021 have still not been published. A delay is not unusual and is something that has been brought to the Council’s attention on many occasions in the past. However, on this occasion, we are concerned that the delay is due to BHAL’s desire to avoid revealing discussions on their plans about the two issues mentioned above, possibly to coincide with the review of the NAP.
These issues are of major concern to us all. It is impossible to understate how badly this will affect those living under the BHA flight path.
For these reasons, it is vital that the Council is made aware of the strength of the opposition to either of these changes being allowed. The Council may argue that it needs to be a ‘reasonable landlord’ but it also needs to be a ‘reasonable Council’ in the way it represents its residents. You can ensure they know your opinions if you continue to write, to tell your neighbours, and – especially – to attend the meetings in January.
We have saved our strongest message to last but we hope it is the one you will take away from this newsletter – BHAL is continuing to challenge the Lease and the Deed of Variation at great pace.
It just leaves me to wish you the most enjoyable Christmas, which we hope you can share with your families this year. We also wish you a very happy New Year and hope that the Council will help us all, both by ensuring that BHAL fulfils its commitments and by ensuring that the conditions in the Lease are honoured by BHAL.
Flightpath Watch Ltd
Newsletter November 2021
Further to the newsletter you received from Flightpath Watch Ltd on Wednesday 10th November, Bromley Council has informed us that the agenda item relating to Biggin Hill Airport will NOT be considered either by the Executive Committee at their meeting on 24th November or, therefore, by the Scrutiny Committee on 18th November.
We are very concerned that Bromley Council has decided to withdraw the Biggin Hill Airport item at short notice from the Executive meeting on the 24th November 2021, but they must have a reason. We will let you know as soon as possible about the reasons for this postponement and the date of the Executive Meeting where it will be discussed.
The leaflet we attached to our newsletter carried the date which had been notified to us at the time and those of you who are considering distributing it as we suggested may prefer to use this revised version instead. We apologise to those of you who have already delivered leaflets as requested, but this change was unexpected.
Letters to the Council are still urgently required and we still want to encourage as many people as possible to write and voice their demands now, as suggested in the leaflet. To reiterate our concerns:
1. Bromley Council should engage legal Counsel to correct all the errors and misinterpretation of the documents attached to the Deed of Variation that allowed the new hours, and
2. All conditions of approval should at last be enforced or the extension to the hours should be rescinded.
Robert Pattullo, Chairman, Flightpath Watch Ltd.
Newsletter October 2021
This being the five-year anniversary of the granting of the extension to the operating hours at Biggin Hill Airport, a review of the Noise Action Plan (NAP) is required and BHAL published its review at the end of August. We have serious concerns about the consequences of this report as we believe that , in spite of BHAL not having complied with a number of important conditions imposed by Bromley Council when the new operating hours were granted, BHAL will be using this opportunity to seek further concessions to the Lease to support its business development.
Flightpath Watch Ltd has considered the BHAL report and has, in turn, produced its own review which was sent to the Leader of Bromley Council last week, copied to LBB’s CEO, all Councillors and to the Council’s Airport Monitoring Officer.
To read the full report please click the link above:
Our report is a comprehensive review of all aspects of the conditions with which BHAL should have complied in order to be awarded the additional hours and the effect that this concession to expand the commercial activities at the airport has had on residents since. We have made it clear that Bromley Council should no longer delay enforcing the terms of the Lease and of the Deed of Variation which documented the new operating hours and have suggested that it would be appropriate for the Council to obtain advice from legal Counsel on aspects which have not been properly complied with, of which there are several.
To highlight a quote from our report:
“The approval to grant extended operating hours has suddenly created a totally different, unwelcome and oppressive local environment, which is detrimental to residing in this part of the borough. A strict limit on movements is essential to try and keep a balance on the damage (physical, mental and economic) caused to residents, and LBB’s legal Counsel needs robustly to defend the cap as a condition of granting extended hours and to bring it back to how it was intended and approved.”
The Noise Action Plan review is due to be considered by the Executive Committee of Bromley Council on November 24th 2021. BHAL suggests that the limit of 50,000 flight movements per annum which has been in effect since the extended hours were approved will no longer apply if the Council agrees that BHAL has met all its conditions during the first five years. This agreement will be sought at the meeting in November.
Flightpath Watch Ltd is concerned that meetings have been taking place between Bromley Council and BHAL and that some form of trade-off is being negotiated which will further dilute the protections for residents afforded by the Lease and the Deed of Variation. This could, for example, mean that the clause prohibiting fare paying passengers, which was supported so strongly by residents in May this year, could be amended or replaced as a quid pro quo for other commitments from the Airport.
Flightpath Watch Ltd has been accused of scaremongering by BHAL in the past and yet our concerns about the nature and frequency of the flights resulting from the additional hours have always proved to be well-founded. Yet again, we cannot stress strongly enough the importance of residents contacting their Councillors to voice their objections to any further changes to the Lease, and in particular, to the Permitted User Clause, which is THE fundamental clause in the Lease governing the use of the airport. In the past Bromley Council had to defend this clause through the High Courts, and won. Should it have lost, the onset of commercial flights would have completely changed the nature of Biggin Hill Airport, with very detrimental effects on our quality of life.
We need to alert our ward councillors that this challenge may be on the cards again on the occasion of the Review of the Noise Action Plan and to ask them to stay firm on this very fundamental clause.
- Please take the time to read our report and to see the body of evidence we have gathered together to support our case to the Council.
- Please share its contents with as many people as you can in your neighbourhood.
- Please encourage them all to contact the Council and make their opinions heard. When the Executive Committee meets in November it must be in no doubt about the strength of feeling, not only about how living with the airport’s operations affects us today, but also about our fears for the future. Contact details of ward Councillors and members of the Executive Committee can be found here:
One final note, it is extremely important, when contacting the Council, to ensure that you include your name and address with your letter or email, so that the Council knows which areas are affected.
Once again we have had to bring serious and worrying news to your attention. We know you will support us in every way you can and we thank you now for your efforts.
With best regards
Robert Pattullo, Chairman, Flightpath Watch Ltd.
- Engages with local residents to ensure that it fully represents their opinions and concerns about the local environment to the London Borough of Bromley
- Is the representative body of people affected by the day-to-day operations of Biggin Hill Airport
- Opposes any changes to the terms of the Lease Agreement between London Borough of Bromley (Landlord) and Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (Lessee) which have the potential to threaten the environment and quality of life of Bromley residents
- Engages with the Councillors of the London Borough of Bromley to ensure they meet the obligations of the Landlord as defined by the Lease
- Engages with the Councillors of the London Borough of Bromley to ensure that they provide mechanisms to monitor that Biggin Hill Airport Ltd operates within the restrictions defined by the Lease and that appropriate penalties are levied when this is not the case
- Engages with the Councillors of the London Borough of Bromley to ensure they work with the airport to implement noise mitigation measures and where possible to establish flight paths which do not over-fly residential area
- Monitors further developments at the Airport that could affect the living environment of the local residents.