|Many of you will already have heard that the proposal submitted by Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (BHAL) to amend the Permitted User clause in the Lease between BHAL and their landlord, Bromley Council, was unanimously rejected by the Executive Committee on Wednesday (26 May 2021) evening.|
This was in no small part due to the overwhelming volume of emails and letters voicing comments and objections which had been received by the members of the Executive Committee and by Ward Councillors. Flightpath Watch Ltd (FPW) would like to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to demonstrate how important the protection of the Permitted User clause is to local residents. Your concerns were impossible to ignore. We must also thank the Councillors of the affected wards for their support throughout.
Some of the main themes mentioned in your correspondence were specifically referenced by the Leader of the Executive Committee and of the Council, Colin Smith, and included increasing noise levels; detrimental effect of increased flights on the environment and on the community; the importance of adhering to the 2002 High Court judgement which upheld the terms of the Permitted User clause; the lack of sufficient notice of the application; and BHAL’s attempt to put pressure on the Council with legal action if their application was rejected.
There were some interesting comments from Councillors who spoke at the meeting. Councillor Christopher Marlow, who represents Farnborough and Crofton and who chairs the Executive, Resources and Contracts Policy Development & Scrutiny Committee, made particular reference to the need for any future applications concerning the Airport to be subject to consultation with representatives of the wards in the south of the borough, which are most affected by Airport activity. This is especially important as we found when the extension to the operating hours at the Airport was considered in 2015/6, the vote was carried by Councillors from wards which are not impacted at all.
Concerns were also voiced because the Biggin Hill Airport Consultative Committee (BHACC), which meets quarterly and includes members representing parties with interests in the Airport, including the Council, did not receive notice of this application until after it became public. BHAL’s CEO, David Winstanley, has apologised for this oversight, but there is still some disquiet about the lack of proper consultation.
The prospect of legal action being brought by BHAL if the application were to be refused was also mentioned with the possible consequence that it might include a request to allow scheduled flights. This would be a worrying development and would directly challenge the 2002 High Court decision.
We now await BHAL’s next steps, whether they take the form of a legal challenge, a revised application or some other plans. It is unlikely that BHAL will let matters rest with this decision, so it will be important for all of us to stay alert for news of any developments. It’s also certain that they will have learned from this process and will revise their strategy accordingly.
We are aware that a review of the Noise Action Plan (NAP) by the Council is also in the pipeline. If BHAL is considered to have met the conditions imposed on it at the time the additional operating hours were granted, then there is the possibility that the cap on the number of flight movements, currently 50,000, may be relaxed and may revert to the 125,000 in the current lease, or another limit as deemed appropriate. If the conditions are considered not met, then the Council has it within its power to withdraw the additional operating hours. FPW contends that the conditions of the NAP and the Management Information Letter (MIL) have not been met and will continue to make representations to the Council to this effect.
Once again, FPW thank you for your continued support. For our part, we will not rest on our laurels and will continue to ensure that the voices of residents whose lives are affected by Biggin Hill Airport are being heard by Bromley Council.
Flightpath Watch Ltd 29/5/2021
Further to yesterday’s update (19/5/2021) about the application by Biggin Hill Airport Ltd for a change to the Permitted User clause in their Lease with London Borough of Bromley, we have been advised that it will be necessary for residents to address their comments directly to ALL the members of the Executive Committee, or to the Leader of Bromley Council, Colin Smith, copying the rest of the Executive Committee. We give their email details below.
If you have already sent an email to your local Councillors, please re-direct it to the Executive Committee. For those of you who are yet to send your email, please address it to these Councillors, copying your own local Councillor(s) in the same email.
Cllr Colin Smith (Leader)
Cllr Kate Lymer (Deputy Leader & Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Families)
Cllr Graham Arthur (Portfolio Holder for Resources)
Cllr William Huntington-Thresher (Portfolio Holder for the Environment) firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Peter Morgan (Portfolio Holder for Renewal, Recreation & Housing)
Cllr Angela Page (Portfolio Holder for Public Protection & Enforcement)
Cllr Diane Smith (Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care & Health Care)
Thank you for your support
Flightpath Watch Ltd
Breaking News -Urgent Action Required
Flightpath Watch was notified yesterday, 18 May 2021, by Bromley Council that Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (BHAL) has applied to change the Permitted User Clause of the Lease to include the acceptance of fare-paying passengers.
At present only flights chartered for business use, private flying and a few other minor categories are permitted. The introduction of fare-paying passengers will, without any doubt, increase the number of large aircraft and could very likely be the precursor to the introduction of scheduled flights, with the associated changes in local infrastructure.
For your information, the promised 50,000 cap on movements cannot be applied going forward because the language used by the Council to define it totally negates its applicability after the first five years. The noise parameters approved by the Council are also unhelpful because they are based on average measures over 16-hour periods, including periods of silence.
It also needs to be noted that BHAL has so far failed to respect certain important aspects of the NAP (Noise Action Plan) and the MIL (Management Information Letter). Any further concessions to the terms of the Lease would therefore be unreasonable.
This application is as serious for residents as the application to increase the operating hours at the airport in 2014. Because of lockdown, over the past year we have not been seeing the full effect of the increase in operating hours and BHAL is now making more demands.
Residents need to react quickly to lodge objections because the application will be discussed at the meeting of the Council Executive on 26th May 2021. This short timeline is probably due to the BHAL’s threat to take the Council to a Tribunal if the request is not approved by 2nd June 2021.
The request to carry fare-paying passengers was successfully fought off by the Council at the High Courts in 2002. It was also rejected in 2011 when some loosening was requested on the occasion of the Olympics.
Informal advice given to us in 2015 stated that the Property Law clause BHAL is now trying to use with reference to “the Tribunal” cannot be applied in the case of Biggin Hill airport because of its connection with a local authority and not a private landlord.
Nevertheless, we have seen the Council become progressively more and more biased towards the Airport and we cannot underestimate the seriousness of this threat, particularly in the absence of an effective 50,000 cap on flights.
Please write to your councillors as soon as possible and certainly by 23rd May 2021, with a copy to the Leader of the Council, who will chair the meeting of the Executive next week, to express your objections in the firmest possible terms. Reasons to be given can be derived from our comments above. For instance: the Permitted User Clause is fundamental to the Lease as originally granted with the aim of protecting local residents the 50,000 cap had a 5 year limit which will soon expire the longer operating hours have already attracted large and low-flying aircraft over residential areas the NAP and the MIL are not being complied with in certain important parts and no more concessions should be considered in the current circumstances residents are being discriminated against in net favour of the Airport, or any other expression of how increased activity at the Airport would affect you.
The email address of the Leader of the Council is Colin.email@example.com and you will find your councillors at the following linke:
You can also help by cascading this information to your neighbours, friends or local organisations who you think will be affected if the Council agrees to this change.
Please do not put this off. Drop a few lines now just addressing those issues that affect you.
Thank you for your help
Flightpath Watch Ltd
Flightpath Watch held a public meeting on 29 October 2019 at Petts Wood Methodist Church. Please see the Newsletter page for a full account of the well attended meeting.
Flightpath Watch have pursued LBB for some time to elect an Airport Monitoring Officer (AMO) to deal with resident’s queries on BHA and to be a general point of contact. This appointment was one of the pledges made when the Council extended the Airport operating hours some years ago.
Recently Flightpath Watch was informed, following a further query, that an intern at the Council had been appointed as AMO.
The new AMO was invited, timely, to attend the FPW Open Meeting held on 29 October 2019, but failed to respond to invitations by email and hard copy, and failed to attend. As required by the considerable number of residents attending the Open Meeting, FPW are maintaining contact with the Council on this matter.
A number of attendees requested details of the irregularities contained in the survey of Bromley Residents regarding the extension of hours. Please see Menu above: History/ Consultation Irregularities.
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.