News Letters

Thank you to all for your efforts in spreading the word about Flightpath Watch.  We have gained more supporters as a result.  Thank you also to everyone who has stepped forward to offer to deliver our promotional leaflets in their local area.  We’re in the process of preparing them and will be in touch soon.  Please do continue to tell your neighbours and contacts in the community about us. 

In our last newsletter we spoke about the impending review of the Biggin Hill Noise Action Plan and the letter we had written to the Leader of Bromley Council and Councillors representing the wards under the flight path.

The Council shared our letter with Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (BHAL) who responded. 

We thought you would be interested in seeing a copy of our response, which is reproduced below.  It is a long letter, but we would encourage you to read it in full because it discusses important issues.  Please feel free to contact us if you would like clarification on any of its contents.

Best regards
Flightpath Watch Ltd
August 2021

==================
Dear Councillors,             

I apologize about writing to such a wide audience, but Flightpath Watch needs to respond to the points made by the Chief Executive of Biggin Hill Airport Ltd in his letter dated 22nd July 2021, addressed to me as Chairman of Flightpath Watch and copied to you all and to the members of the Airport Consultative Committee.

The residents’ legal and correct conduit in any matters related to Biggin Hill Airport is Bromley Council, which is the legal entity holding a relationship with BHAL. It is the Council’s responsibility to mediate between its tenant and the residents, therefore we need to address you as our representatives.

By way of background, we recently wrote to the councillors of the wards affected by airport operations, asking for help because, five years after the approval of the extended operating hours at the airport, several very important mitigating conditions have still not been complied with.  While BHAL has enjoyed the increase in hours, with the ensuing business opportunities, the residents have been badly impacted by larger aircraft arriving, taking off and circling, at very low level, over a much longer operating period, without any of the promised mitigations.

Our original letter, which is attached for reference, was intended for the Council. We do not object to that letter being shared with BHAL, but we would then request that Bromley Council affords us the same courtesy in the future, and copies us in correspondence from BHAL that affects residents.

Contrary to Mr Winstanley’s surmising, Flightpath Watch Ltd is not a business. It is a non-profit organisation incorporated on 2nd February 2018 to take over the work done by Flightpath Watch, an unincorporated body formed to act where and when necessary to protect and improve the environment, amenity and quality of life of residents living under the flight path or close to London Biggin Hill Airport.

With regard to the several committees that Mr Winstanley refers to in his letter, they are all mainly populated by aviation-interested parties, as Mr Winstanley lists himself. There are a few exceptions, including the Airport Monitoring Officer. There is however a lack of representation of the residents and of the council (Bexley) located in the most affected areas at the North of the airport. Moreover, we were quite perturbed at finding out that the Airport Consultative Committee is not being informed on important issues, such as the building of an exceptionally large hangar (larger than would be normally accepted as permitted development) or the application to amend the Permitted User Clause to allow for individual tickets to be sold to the public.

In the main, complaints are handled ineffectively because answers are based on a system, WebTrak, that has abundantly been proven not to be fit for purpose.  We will discuss this under the relevant point below.

As to the issues we raised in our letter to the councillors of the wards affected, we do not believe that the explanations provided by Mr Winstanley are tenable.

GPS route to Runway 03 – please note that this is the most important mitigating condition for the majority of affected residents, as it would take away some 30% of all incoming flights from the most impacted areas, all located to the North of the airport. Such areas are densely populated and currently see ALL incoming flights on a non-visual approach – i.e. the near totality, and on the increase.

Mr Winstanley blames the CAA for the delay in its approval.In reality, before the Council mistakenly declared all the conditions attached to the increase in operating hours satisfied, BHAL’s consultants Cyrrus stated, in a report publicly available (the definitions in italics and the underlining are ours): “… there were reservations about the interaction between the IAP [Instrument Approach Procedure, i.e. the new route to R03] and traffic operating under VFR [Visual flight rules] in the corridor of Class G airspace [below 2500 feet] located between the Biggin ATZ [aerodrome traffic zone] and the Gatwick CTR/CTA [Controlled Traffic Region/Control Traffic Area] and Redhill aerodrome activity [….] Once these activities are completed, LBHA will determine whether a case for the introduction of an IAP to Runway 03 can be submitted to the CAA” (Cyrrus, Post-consultation results, 25 April 2016, pages 12 and 13).

Moreover, alerted by the conclusion that Cyrrus had drawn with regard to the viability of the new proposed route, Flightpath Watch wrote to all councillors and relevant council officers quoting a letter from the CAA stating that “At this moment in time we have not received any formal proposal from BHAL or its consultants in respect of the R03 instrument approach procedure” (6 June 2016). This was in complete contrast with the statement in the MIL (May 2016) that the new instrument approach procedure to R03 had “passed” the stakeholder consultation (it clearly had not) and was “under consideration by the CAA” (it clearly was not) for implementation in the Autumn 2016.

Council officers decided to disregard both the statements by Cyrrus and the CAA and proceeded to declare that all conditions had been complied with, and recommended to the Executive that the increase in hours be granted.  Residents have been left to carry the consequences of this lack of care and, in spite of lockdown, have seen a considerable increase in arrivals by large and low aircraft on the current visual-approach route into R03 (the Southern end of the runway), which was designed for light aircraft operating under visual flying rules, not for the type of aircraft now operating at the airport. To explain, the existing route to R03 runs in part along the instrument-landing route to R21 (the Northern end of the runway), before splitting to the West over Locksbottom, Farnborough Park and Keston, among other areas. It should by now have been replaced by a new GPS route to R03, approaching from the East, thus alleviating residents in the North by an estimated 30% of arrivals.

This point requires serious consideration at the pending five-year review of the NAP. Although, strictly speaking, it is the CAA that does not seem inclined to grant approval for the new route to R03, BHAL was very well aware of the difficulties, but decided not to mention them in the MIL. The extended operating hours should therefore be revoked until this condition is satisfied.

Cap of 50,000 movements – This is the second most important condition for the residents.

Mr Winstanley calls it a “voluntary” cap, but this was never intended to be voluntary and was never going to last only five years. The way it was transcribed (or accepted) by Council’s lawyers was in open contrast to the belief by most councillors, including Cllr Carr, then Leader of the Council, of what had actually been approved.We have correspondence that indicates that Cllr Carr was under the impression that he had approved a permanent and effective cap.

In spite of this, the cap was breached in both 2016 and 2017.The minutes to the meeting of 15 June 2016, when the new hours were formally approved, state: “The MIL would be incorporated in the Deed of Variation and would be enforceable as such. Should the cap of 50,000 annual movements appear likely to be breached (or was breached) in the first five years of the NAP, the NAP would be reviewed and the Council could suspend the extended hours pending completion of the review”.  The new operating hours became effective at the beginning of April 2017, in a state of breach. There is no mention in the approval or at the time the extended hours became effective of a grace period to 2018. In view of the dichotomy between the cap as promised to the residents and the cap as described in the MIL, we expect the Council to exercise its right and, we would say, its obligation towards the residents to suspend the new operating hours and insist on a permanent and effective cap of 50,000 movements per annum, as was promised.

The Noise Monitoring and Track Keeping System is not fit for purpose –This has repeatedly been demonstrated to the Council, and has also been the subject of a complaint to the Ombudsman, who encouraged the Council to carry out the appointment of the Airport Monitoring Officer (a corollary condition of the approval of the new hours, which had yet to be satisfied), so that residents could be heard. With the exception of a few months in 2019 when a young intern was given the title of Airport Monitoring Officer but never wanted to speak to residents, the official appointment of the Airport Monitoring Officer did not occur until April 2020.

WebTrak only very rarely records helicopter flights and residents have to refer to Flightradar 24 to prove infractions. We do not accept that the reason can be attributed to “national security reasons”, as Mr Winstanley states, because, were codes suppressed for security concerns, these flights would not appear on Flightradar 24 either, which they do. Moreover, the fact that the radar does not pick up the remaining helicopter flights because they are below Heathrow’s “radar horizons”, on which WebTrak is based, as Mr Winstanley explains, just confirms the limitations of WebTrak for the purposes of satisfying a condition of approval of the hours as set by Bromley Council.

WebTrak also records take-offs to the North at considerable distance from the correct location. The type and size of aircraft using Biggin Hill has nearly totally changed after the increase in hours (they are now much larger and heavier), but their height has not, which makes them very oppressive.On take-off, the rear thrust to lift such heavy planes is considerably noisy.Moreover, pilots tend to rev the engines in order to gain height quickly (an unnecessary and unhelpful procedure for the residents), to the point of missing the Noise-Preferential Route negotiated at the time the Lease was signed.The CAA describes this route as requiring “accuracy of navigation” in order to turn East one nautical mile from take-off, but a large number of pilots show no such accuracy and reach the hospital, Farnborough Park, Locksbottom, Crofton and, occasionally, even the area in the vicinity of Orpington station before turning East. This Noise-Preferential Route (among others) is referred to in clause j) iv) of the Third Schedule of the Lease. Disrespect of this route puts BHAL in default of the Lease. Yet, BHAL refuses to correct the default by advocating the accuracy of WebTrak, which we thoroughly dispute.

BHAL justifies disregarding residents’ complaints by stating that other major airports use this system.  This may well be true for general information purposes, but we have yet to find an airport that had Track-Keeping attached as a condition of approval for the extended operating hours.  To satisfy this condition, which is the only element that matters, WebTrak is not fit for purpose. 

No-Fly Zones – No-Fly Zones is the term used in the NAP.  In the MIL, they are specifically identified, although they are downgraded to Noise Sensitive Areas.  The NAP requires No-Fly Zones to be respected, but they are constantly disregarded. Contrary to the statement by Mr Winstanley that the incidence of helicopters crossing No-Fly Zones/Noise Sensitive Areas is rare, this is, in fact, on the increase.  However, because helicopters do not appear on WebTrak, residents cannot complain by using this facility and often desist.  Any other form of communication, by letter or e-mail, is not believed as “not proven” or, too often, “following ATC instructions” (the latter not a credible reason when the sky is totally clear of any other aircraft, as has been demonstrated to the Council with images from Flightradar 24).

Other – With regard to BHAL’s recent request to amend The Permitted User Clause, undoubtedly the most important clause in the Lease, Mr Winstanley asks Flightpath Watch to “acknowledge” that BHAL “has no intention of operating scheduled holiday flights with operators such as Easyjet and Ryanair.” We believe that this very narrow classification is quite revealing.

BHAL’s intention has always been clear.

  • It was clear in 2000, when the Council had to defend the Permitted User Clause through the High Courts.  
  • It was clear in 2011 when, on the occasion of the Olympics, BHAL was forced to withdraw a request to open flights to the public via the sale of tickets.  
  • It was clear in 2014, when BHAL stated to the Council and to residents attending a presentation at the airport that, should the Council not approve the increase in hours, it would pursue commercial and scheduled flights (which they are clearly now doing, in spite of having obtained the increase in hours).  
  • It was clear in 2015 when, at the same time as BHAL was applying for an increase in operating hours and declaring that scheduled flights were not its intention, it had just submitted a representation to the House of Commons Transport Committee (published on 9 March 2015) mentioning the application to Bromley Council as:
  • stay open for one hour longer to 23.00 hrs on weekdays[of course we know that “one hour longer” turned out to be an increase by 24%, to longer operating hours than City Airport, Farnborough and Northolt];  
  • make Saturdays the same as weekdays;  
  • open at 08.00 hrs and close at 23.00 hrs on Sundays;  
  • allow passengers who paid a fare to have access to the airport on a quantified basis. Today corporate customers, princes, prisoners, politicians and pop stars can all use the airport on flights of up to 80 seats, owned or chartered privately – but members of the public are not permitted to buy tickets and no flights carrying members of the public who bought their own tickets are allowed access.
  • It was clear in May 2021, when BHAL surreptitiously (it did not even inform the ACC) and giving the Council a very tight deadline, tried to force a change to the Permitted User Clause to allow for fare-paying passengers, which is indeed the precursor to wider commercial operations.  It goes against the most important clause in the Lease, agreed with the Council at the time of signing in order to protect the amenities of local residents.
  • In conclusion, we fear that BHAL is not behaving as a good neighbour and is not in compliance with the conditions it accepted when the new operating hours were granted.  It has enjoyed the increased hours, which have brought along a change in the type of aircraft used at the airport and considerable more landing-fee income to BHAL but, five years on, residents are still waiting for the Council to enforce the mitigations promised to them. The review of the NAP, which is not BHAL’s review as it would like you to believe, but the Council’s review for compliance, is the opportunity for the Council to exercise its duty of care towards the residents and insist that conditions are complied with without any further delay, or rescind the new operating hours.

    As we consider you our representatives, we look at you to resolve a situation that is currently unbalanced towards BHAL and subjects residents to considerable and continued stress. The Council negotiated certain conditions to mitigate the impact on residents.  Residents ask that these conditions are now complied with. This is not an unfair request and residents cannot understand why the Council has not done what it promised.

    Thank you.

    Flightpath Watch Ltd

29/5/2021

Dear Member,


  

                                                                                                                     
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.

Best regards
Flightpath Watch Ltd                                                                                                                  29/5/2021                

20/5/21
Dear Member,


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)    
colin.smith@bromley.gov.uk
 
Cllr Kate Lymer (Deputy Leader & Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Families)
kate.lymer@bromley.gov.uk
 
Cllr Graham Arthur (Portfolio Holder for Resources)   
graham.arthur@bromley.gov.uk
 
Cllr William Huntington-Thresher (Portfolio Holder for the Environment)          william@ocat.co.uk                                                        
 
Cllr Peter Morgan (Portfolio Holder for Renewal, Recreation & Housing)     
peter.morgan@bromley.gov.uk
 
Cllr Angela Page (Portfolio Holder for Public Protection & Enforcement)
angela.page@bromley.gov.uk
 
Cllr Diane Smith (Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care & Health Care)
diane.smith@bromley.gov.uk
 
Thank you for your support
 
Flightpath Watch Ltd
20/5/21

———————————————————————————————————-

19/5/2021
Dear Member,


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.smith@bromley.gov.uk and you will find your councillors at the following linke:
 https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1
 
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
19/5/2021



   

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.

April 2021

Dear Member

Although it has been some time since we last sent a newsletter, Flightpath Watch has been actively representing residents in matters concerning Biggin Hill Airport during the past year.

We hope that this newsletter finds you and your families well and that, with the road out of lockdown now in sight, you are all able to look forward optimistically to better times ahead. 

Airport Monitoring Officer (AMO)

Although a condition of the terms under which the extended hours were granted to BHA, the appointment of an AMO did not take place until 2019 and was a short-lived event with the incumbent not engaging with Flightpath Watch or any residents and, indeed, moving on very quickly, leaving the post vacant for several months.  However, in April 2020, and following on from the complaints of one of our members to the Local Government Ombudsman, Bromley Council appointed a more permanent AMO, Matthew Amer.  He can be contacted at matthew.amer@bromley.gov.uk or tel: 020 8313 4938.

We have raised several issues with him and, so far, he has always replied in a timely manner, although we have noted that he is increasingly adopting Bromley Council’s bias towards the Airport.  It is nevertheless helpful to have a reference point within the Council whose job it is to be familiar with the points of view of the residents.

Effect of lockdown requirements on BHA flights

One of the benefits of the measures arising from the lockdown and the system of Tiers we have been living with at various times has been a reduction in flights into and out of Biggin Hill Airport.  Flightpath Watch has nevertheless expressed concerns to Bromley Council about some flights which have taken place during lockdown, notably the Piaggio aircraft which is instantly recognisable by its unusual nose shape and its unmistakable engine noise and more recently, a BA Cityflyer that operates from City Airport on a scheduled basis and, as such, alerted several residents.  The Council has not confirmed the nature of these flights, but simply reiterated the Airport’s position that only certain categories of flight were operated during pandemic restrictions, namely, repatriation, delivery of medical and other supplies, essential business flights, licence currency flights (restricted to professional pilots only) and renewal of certificate of air-worthiness (applicable only for aircraft used for commercial purposes).  As such, these flights were permitted under the restrictions in place.  Our attempts to find out more about these flights from the Webtrak system were thwarted because some did not show up at all (for security reasons, we are told) and others did not have their transponders activated so registration information was unavailable.

Helicopters

Another noise nuisance which does not seem to have gone away is helicopters.  Flightpath Watch has corresponded with the AMO on this issue.  He has passed on assurances from the MD at BHAL that they are making efforts to encourage helicopter pilots to avoid noise-sensitive (which would include residential) areas, but also made it clear that BHAL does not accept that it is a requirement under the terms of their Lease with Bromley Council to do so if a helicopter is above 2000 ft.  Flightpath Watch disagrees with this view as there is no mention of a height limitation in the NAP (Noise Action Plan) associated with the obligation by helicopters to avoid Noise Sensitive Areas, which in fact are called No-Fly Zones in the NAP.  In our opinion, BHAL is operating in default of the terms and conditions of the Deed of Variation.

Furthermore, many of these helicopter flights cannot be followed on Webtrak, although most can be seen on FlightRadar24.  Combined with the examples reported earlier in this newsletter, the number of instances in which Webtrak fails to provide the information promised to residents is significant.

RAF Training Flights

You may remember that last summer, while we were enjoying the warm weather, we were treated to some very loud RAF training flights which did circuits over Biggin Hill Airport.  This gave rise to quite a few comments on local social media and Flightpath Watch took up the matter with the Airport Monitoring Officer.  The official response is that these flights are rare and that they are allowed under the terms of the Lease.  The RAF assures us that they attempt to share the burden of these flights equally across the country.  However, should they happen again and you wish to make a complaint, it can be registered directly with the RAF on 01993 842551.  Unfortunately under the original Lease these aircraft would almost certainly have breached noise limits, but the amendments to the Lease, which Flightpath Watch campaigned against vociferously, were accepted by Bromley Council and so these flights did not constitute a breach.

Circuits generally

Many other circuit flights take place, for training and testing purposes, for which flight paths avoiding residential areas have been agreed.  In practice, these flights are not following these paths and are causing considerable disturbance.  This is directly in contravention of the clause in the original Lease requiring BHAL to use noise-preferential routings. 

It is our opinion therefore, that this is another matter on which the Airport is operating in default of the Lease.  This has been brought to Bromley Council’s attention but they are dragging their feet in enforcing it.

Airspace Change Proposals for Runway 21

We can report that BHAL have commenced the process of creating a proposal for an airspace change to Runway 21 at the airport (this is the runway most in use).  It appears that the main change is a change in technology.  BHAL intends to add GPS (Global Positioning System) to the current ILS (Instrument Landing System) as GPS is a more flexible technology.  The route is, however, supposed to replicate, in the main, the ILS route.  The Council, as one of the stakeholders in the consultation,  has requested that BHAL should consider noise abatement in their proposals.  Of course, as illustrated by the previous item, there seems to be little enthusiasm within the Council to actually enforce noise abatement conditions so it’s not clear whether there is any purpose in their making these comments. The definition stage is complete; the next stage is to develop and assess the proposal(s) and that is due to be completed by 28th May 2021.  Flightpath Watch has received the proposal and is currently reviewing it.  Responses are due by 7th May.  The consultation process is scheduled to complete on 27th August 2021.  There are several further stages of the process which is due to complete in January 2023.

Night Flights

Flightpath Watch responded to the Department of Transport’s night flight consultation survey, which covered all UK airports.  We indicated support of proposals to determine if there is an economic justification for night flights, which should preferably be stopped altogether.  We also supported the introduction of more stringent standards to reduce engine noise, especially at night and brought to the attention of the DoT the disturbance caused by Heathrow flights circling over the Bromley area from 04:30am while waiting to have access to Heathrow Airport.  Heathrow has a quota of night slots but aircraft that have not secured a night slot circle repeatedly over the areas around Biggin Hill Airport until they are given the go-ahead to land when the airport opens at 06:00am.
 
Going forward

With the gradual relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the Flightpath Watch committee is hopeful that it will not be too long before we can resume our meetings as before.  We appreciate your continued support and we always welcome any comments or input on matters relating to Biggin Hill Airport. 

Our email address is: flightpathwatch@btinternet.com

Please continue also to lobby your local Councillors about your concerns arising from operations at Biggin Hill Airport.  It will be a great help to all residents if the Council learns that it is not just the members of the committee who are moved to complain.   If you are happy to send us a copy of any correspondence, we would greatly appreciate it.

With best regards

Flightpath Watch Ltd
 

November 2019

Notes of Flightpath Watch Ltd public meeting
Held on 29th October 2019 at Petts Wood Methodist Church
Unless otherwise explained within the document, abbreviations used are listed and explained at the end of the document.
Robert Pattullo (FPW Ltd Chair) welcomed the audience and thanked everyone for attending. 

  1. Airport Monitoring Officer (AMO)
    • LBB has recently appointed an AMO.  Her name is Ashley Kolo.  She is a graduate intern working in the Communications Team.  There are no details of the job description for this post. 
    • FPW had invited Ms Kolo to attend this meeting but had not received a response or acknowledgement.  FPW will pursue this with LBB.
    • The appointment of the AMO was a condition set by LBB when they granted the additional operating hours at BHA.  It has taken LBB three years to make this appointment.  This delay is one of a number of items being taken up by FPW with the Local Government Ombudsman.
    • Members of the audience were encouraged to communicate with their local Councillors to keep them informed of their concerns about BHA.  The main complaint is that LBB is not applying pressure on BHAL to keep the promises they made when they were granted extended operating hours.  FPW has made repeated requests to meet the Leader of the Council, Colin Smith, but he has not taken up the invitation.
    • Peter Morgan is the relevant Portfolio Holder on the Council with ultimate responsibility for BHAL and it is he who would have political responsibility through Officers as the residents’ representative.  He has stated that he would be reviewing the conditions set by LBB when the extended hours were granted and a report is expected in June 2020.
    • It is important that as many people as possible record their complaints about flights to BHA. This can be done through the BHA website https://yourairport.co.uk/noise-track/.
  2. London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP)
    • This is a recent NATS initiative, overseen by the CAA, to redesign the use of the airspace over London.
    • FPW responded to the first phase of the consultation via LBB, as landlords of the airport, but our concerns were not passed on in their response to BHAL.  At the next phase of consultation, FPW will respond directly to BHAL.  It was noted that LBB themselves are responsible for flight paths lower than 2,500ft.
    • It is recognised that LHR and LGW requirements will impact to some extent the flight paths available to BHAL but FPW feels that LBB could be stronger and stick to their promise to require flights not to overfly noise-sensitive residential areas.
    • With AEF predictions of a 53% increase in passenger numbers leading to an increase in CO2 emissions of 1 million tonnes by 2050, there is concern that fuel efficiency will take precedence over residents’ concerns in determining flight paths.
    • BHAL have appointed their former Managing Director, Will Curtis, to design their flight path proposals.
    • It is important that as many people as possible respond to the next phase of consultations to show the weight of public opinion.  FPW will advise when this will happen.
    • There was a discussion about noise limits and how they are measured.  Since the introduction of the extended operational hours at BHA, a new methodology was introduced, based on average measurements, which does not reflect the impact of the noise of individual planes.  This was allowed by LBB in spite of evidence provided to LBB by a noise consultant, funded by FPW.  This evidence was ignored by LBB.
    • If BHAL does not breach the noise limits before June 2021, they will be allowed to exceed the current cap of 50,000 flight movements per annum.
    • Monitoring of the number of flights, their noise levels and whether they carry fare-paying passengers (which is not allowed by the Lease) should be the responsibility of the AMO (see item 1).
  3. Independent Commission on Aviation Noise (ICCAN)
    • This was created because the CAA cannot be completely independent with regard to aircraft noise.  Among others, one of their initial conclusions recognises that, whilst larger airports are Government-regulated, smaller local airports (like BHA) are supposed to be regulated by their local Council and are generally not subject to the same restrictions.
    • FPW will maintain contact with ICCAN and is considering making them aware of the manipulation of the survey results at the time of BHAL’s campaign for the additional hours in 2015 (see item 4).
    • There was a discussion about whether BHA has to continue as an airport.  It could provide a substantial site for housing.  The site is not well served by local transport infrastructure and BHAL would welcome enhancements, especially to the road network.  The possibilities of introducing a link from Junction 4 of the M25 and of widening Shire Lane were discussed.
  4. Consultation of Bromley residents in 2015
    • Further to the point discussed at item 3.2, the audience was reminded that in 2015 LBB undertook a survey to assess public support for increasing the hours of operation at BHA.  The survey results indicated that 79% of local residents were in favour of the proposed changes. 
    • At the time, FPW submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to LBB for the details of the responses. FPW’s analysis of the data showed that just 15 individual internet addresses provided 7,101 of the total online responses, representing 0.25% of the 6,071 individual internet addresses which responded, yet represented 25% of the total input.  If the data had been cleaned of the “false” data, the survey would have shown that the weight of opinion among respondents would have been against the additional hours.
    • BHAL did acknowledge the accuracy of FPW’s analysis and the Leader of the Council at the time, Stephen Carr, instructed the Council to disregard the results, but the vote still went in favour of BHAL.
    • Even now the incorrect information is being distributed widely and is used in BHAL marketing documentation by BHAL and in its accounts (see item 6).
  1. Rental Income from BHAL to LBB
    • There are clauses in the Lease between BHAL and LBB that allow for LBB to receive 50% of the profit or notional profit of relevant development or redevelopment of new or refurbished buildings on the airport site, up to a maximum of £1.5m per annum. The profit means such sum as represents the difference between the premium paid for the lease and the aggregate of development expenditure.  These clauses were intended to allow LBB to benefit financially from the development potential of the site.
    • To date, in spite of many developments having taken place including one of significant size (the Rizon hangar), questions to the Council have revealed that LBB has not received any such income.  A further written response to the questions is awaited.
    • The rental income received by BHAL from these developments is paid to a company, the Biggin Hill Hangar Company Ltd (BHHCL), which was originally set up to build and commission a state-of-the-art hangar at BHA, but the company’s stated objective has change to that of “letting an aircraft hangar and aviation support centre”.  The Rizon development was funded by cash injections from a Qatari enterprise which has a 10% interest in BHHCL.  BHHCL is recorded as owing the funders in excess of £18m. No interest is being charged or accruing on the balance.
    • It was also noted that BHAL has recently received planning permission from LBB for a hangar of up to 5 acres in size, so there is significant potential for further income to LBB, greatly in excess of what is currently being paid to them (~ £300k) in annual rent.  The audience was reminded that at the time of applying for the additional hours, BHAL promised that, as well as 2,300 extra jobs and other pledges, LBB would receive £2.3m pa from the airport by 2030.  Three years on, there is no evidence of these pledges being kept.
       
  2. London Centre for Aviation, Technology and Enterprise (LoCATE)
    • LoCATE is the case for growth prepared by BHAL.  A copy of the brochure was shown to the audience.  It is published by Farrell’s Advertising Agency, owned by Sir Terry Farrell.
    • The document contains inaccurate claims that BHAL’s plans for the airport won the support of 79% of local residents.  As discussed under item 4, FPW has proved that these claims are incorrect.
    • A letter has been sent to the Chief Executive Officer of BHAL, David Winstanley, asking him to withdraw the claim from the document and publish a retraction.  A reply is awaited, and if he does not agree to these requests, FPW is considering taking the matter up with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). 
  3. Plea for Action
    • Members of the audience were encouraged to join FPW, if they had not already done so, and to share the details discussed at the meeting with their friends and neighbours, to enlist their support too.  Councillors are more likely to be influenced by a loud and consistent message from many residents in addition to the voice of FPW.
    • Copies of recent letters sent to all Councillors on the current status of BHAL’s pledges and the fulfilment of LBB’s conditions are available on the FPW website.
  4. Other business
    • Another issue which is being pursued relates to the Biggin Hill Airport Consultative Committee (BHACC), which does not fully comply with all Government guidelines for ACC operations.  For example, the BHACC should have been informed in advance about the proposals for the 5 acre hangar but this did not happen.
    • The audience agreed that FPW needs to make more use of social networking to spread its message.  In turn, FPW made a plea for more help with the technical expertise needed to do this.

Robert Pattullo thanked the audience for attending and said it had been a useful dialogue.

Abbreviations

AEF
 
AMO
 
BHA
 
BHAL
 
 
CAA
Aviation Environment Federation
 
Airport Monitoring Officer
 
Biggin Hill Airport
 
Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (the Management Company)
 
Civil Aviation Authority
FPW
LBB
LGW
LHR
NATS
Flightpath Watch Ltd
London Borough of Bromley
London Gatwick Airport
London Heathrow Airport
National Air Traffic Services

———————————————————————————————————————-June 2019

Dear Councillor

As you may be aware, Biggin Hill Airport is planning for further expansion, in spite of not having yet kept

most of the pledges it made in order to obtain a 24% increase in operating hours.

We are very concerned at noting that the Council is making no attempt at ensuring compliance and is not

exercising duty of care towards its residents. We are therefore writing to bring to your attention the fact

that pledges and conditions of approval appear to have been “forgotten” and to ask you, as councillor, to

intervene and rectify this untenable situation.

You are aware that in 2015 Biggin Hill Airport applied to Bromley Council as Landlord for an extension in

operating hours. The extended hours have been in operation since April 2017 and are now longer than

those at City Airport, Northolt Airport and Farnborough Airport, which obviously attracts here air traffic at

unsociable hours when other airports are closed. Please see the table below for comparison.

Northolt Airport Farnborough Airport City Airport Biggin Hill Airport

08.00 to 20.00 on

weekdays

08.00 to 15.00 on

Saturdays

12.00 to 19.00 on

Sundays

12.00 to 19.00 on

Bank Holidays

Total per week: 72.00

07.00 to 22.00 on

weekdays

08.00 to 20.00 on

Saturdays

08.00 to 20.00 on

Sundays

08.00 to 20.00 on

Bank Holidays

Total per week: 99.00

06.30 to 22.30 on

weekdays

06.30 to 13.00 on

Saturdays

12.30 to 22.30 on

Sundays

09.00 to 22.30 on

Bank Holidays

Total per week: 96.50

06.30 to 23.00 on

weekdays

08.00 to 22.00 on

Saturdays

08.00 to 22.00 on

Sundays

08.00 to 22.00 on

Bank Holidays

Total per week: 110.50

NB – The weekly totals in this table do not consider Bank Holidays, which are however included for information

Prior and during the application process, Biggin Hill Airport made 9 pledges to the Council and the

residents. Only the two least helpful ones (Pledge 2 and Pledge 8) have been kept, as noted below.

Pledge 1 – No increase in flights over 2010 levels

This was defined as a cap of 50,000 movements per year. However, the Council accepted a distorted

definition when it came to transcribe the cap into a formal agreement. It linked it to average noise

contours. Only if the number of flights is higher than 50,000 AND some average noise contours are

breached, the Airport would negotiate new parameters with the Council. Is this a cap? In fact, this

definition could cause the number of movements to escalate exponentially. An eminent acoustic expert

(Stephen Turner), who was a government advisor on aviation noise for fifteen years, was appointed by

Flightpath Watch. He stated that “if all the aircraft using LBHA were to become 3 dB less noisy, the

movements could be doubled and the same contour area achieved. It would seem that there was no

difference in impact, but it is highly likely that those living nearby would not perceive the noise reduction

from each individual movement but would notice the doubling of movements and be adversely affected by

it.”(ST Acoustics, Nov. 2015, 3.6).

The Council were provided with the report by ST Acoustics but decided to disregard it. The result is that

there is no 50,000 cap on movements.

Pledge 2 – No new runways – we don’t need them

In fact, the airport closed the smaller of its two runways but this was not beneficial to residents. Runway

R29/11, has now been converted into a parking area for Bombardier aircraft and the flying schools (the

main users of R29/11) have been incentivised to leave. The airport is now replacing light aircraft with large

aircraft. The noise and visual impact is greater for residents, on arrival but also on take-off, which requires

considerable more thrust.

For your information:

In 2016 there were 7,957 jet-charter movements

In 2018 there were 10,539 jet-charter movements (+32%).

Pledge 3 – No commercial airlines – we want to stick to business aviation

Some of you may remember that the Council took the Airport to court in 2000 to have certain clauses of

the Lease clarified in view of certain breaches by the Airport. The Judge at the Court of Appeal found for

the Council and excluded from Business Aviation both i) the sale of individual tickets – only chartering of jets

by one individual or company for its own business purposes being allowed, and ii) flights to holiday

destinations. However i) a request to the Council to monitor how tickets are sold on the large transatlantic

flights that now operate at the airport has been rejected and ii) we know that flights to and from holiday

destinations continue, as demonstrated by Flightradar 24, a well-known flight tracker website.

Pledge 4 – No expansion beyond the existing airport boundary

In September 2013, Regional Airlines, the parent of BHAL, bought the Milking Lane Farm, located at the

Northern end of the runway. During a question-time session at the Council, we asked for the map of the

“existing” boundary of the airport. Cllr Carr (a staunch airport supporter) stopped the officer who was

attempting to reply, from showing the map. It is fair to assume that the boundary of the airport has been

extended to incorporate the Milking Lane Farm.

In addition, the airport has asked for certain green-belt areas within the boundary to be excluded from the

green belt. Some areas were released in the new local plan, but very recently a new massive hangar of 5.2

acres has been approved by the Council on green-belt land that had not been released. Moreover, this

approval was granted in spite of the hangar not being built by Biggin Hill Airport Limited but by a tenant, a

factor that ought to have invalidated Permitted Development Rights and required the plans to be

presented to a planning committee. We are also aware that the Planning Officer initially contacted by the

Airport had rejected the application.

Pledge 5 – New noise monitoring equipment with full public access to the data, and new noise limits

enforced by the Council

In exchange for the considerable (24%) increase in operating hours, BHAL offered to implement a noise

monitoring and track-keeping system, accessible to the public. The system is now in operation but:

1. The noise limits accepted by Bromley Council are so wide and averaged over 16-hour periods that they

are virtually ‘un-breachable’. The Noise Monitoring part of the System is therefore worthless.

2. The track-keeping system does not appear to show the correct location of most flights. Residents who

have experienced a flight right overhead, find that the system records it some 500/600 metres away.

The airport is aware, as is the Council, but residents’ empirical observations are not listened to.

3. One of the conditions for approval of the new hours was that a council officer would be employed to

monitor compliance with the requested conditions – there is no sign that this officer is going to be

appointed.

Pledge 6 – New approach procedures keeping planes higher for longer

The intention was to keep aeroplanes above 3000 ft for longer before they started their descent. A trial

was announced in March 2015 but came to nothing. Now very large aircraft overfly residential areas North

of the airport at less than 2000 ft from the ground. Over the hospital and the Farnborough and Crofton

areas they are at less than 1000 ft from the ground.

The airport also promised a new route to the Southern end of the runway (R03) that would reduce the

impact on the communities to the North of the airport by some 30%. As at today’s date, there is no sign of

this new route being approved by the CAA, let alone implemented.

Pledge 7 – Preventing light aircraft flying over residential areas

Helicopters are classified as small aircraft in the MIL, the document that the Airport itself wrote and is now

attached to the Deed of Variation of the Lease. That document defines a small number of residential areas

that ought to be avoided by light aircraft but they are not. Helicopters are increasing in numbers and do

not respect the noise-sensitive areas listed in the MIL.

For your information:

In 2016 there were 2,677 helicopter movements

In 2018 there were 3,613 helicopter movements (+35%)

Moreover, with the relocation of the flying schools, training circuits by light aircraft have been replaced by

large aircraft, training or testing, circling over residential areas every three or four minutes, sometimes for

hours, at high speed and very low level. The effect is devastating for residents’ homes: these circuits are

extremely noisy, scary and downright dangerous. This practice was stopped for a period, but it appears to

have started again.

Pledge 8 – Annual Festival of Flight protected

The Festival of Flight is continuing, for now.

Pledge 9 – A new aviation training college

Given that this was advertised by the Airport, we all expected BHAL to build and run the aviation college.

However it now appears that it is going to be paid for by the tax-payer and run by Bromley College, with the

Airport only contributing aviation training.

In addition to the funds provided by the GLA, we note from one of the minutes of the Airport Consultative

Committee that Bromley Council has undertaken to contribute £1 million for the College. However, BHAL

has expressed the view that “this should be used on road improvements to make the site viable”. As we

know from a recent LoCate document “A Case for Growth”, road infrastructure is one of the airport’s main

requirements, so access to the college may not be the real objective of the Airport’s request for public

funding.

In the next letter (we are only planning one more), we will be analysing how the conditions imposed by the

Council (some overlapping the Airport’s pledges) have proved equally unsatisfactory.

We hope you will understand that, after more than two years from the implementation of the extended

hours and many reminders to Council members and officers, residents are becoming increasingly frustrated

at the Council’s unwillingness to keep its promises to the affected residents. We trust you will agree that

this is not acceptable and that you will intervene to ask for the enforcement of all pledges and conditions.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Kind regards

Robert Pattullo

Chairman

Flightpath Watch Ltd

Dear Member

May 2019

Last year, members of Flightpath Watch argued with the Council for several months that, below

2500 feet, it had the powers to move training or testing circuits by aircraft to open countryside, so as

not to disturb densely populated residential areas, particularly during the weekend.

Training circuits by small aircraft have traditionally used Plan B and Plan C in the map below (taken

from the airport website https://www.bigginhillairport.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/BHAFlight-

Routes.pdf ). Plan C became obsolete when runway 29/11 was closed to the flying schools

and given to Bombardier for their own parking and other purposes.

The real problem however started when training by the small aircraft of the private flying schools

was replaced by training on the much larger aircraft now in use at the airport and by testing of all

types of large aircraft by the servicing companies now based at the airport (Bombardier for

example). Those incessant circuits overflying our homes at low level by very large aircraft, every 3

minutes for hours, became unbearable, scary at times and downright dangerous. After several

exchanges with the Council, such circuits appeared to stop. With the new Chief Executive Officer at

the airport, they have started again. The example below happened on Saturday 27th April and lasted

from 14.10 to 15.22 – Not a pleasant afternoon in the garden!

Planning laws give local authorities the power to design and control flying routes below 2500 ft by

imposing plannig conditions, mainly via section 106 of planning laws. Bromley incorrectly refutes

this.

Initially Council officers were convinced that all routes, even below 2500 ft, are controlled by the

CAA, which is not true. The CAA has confirmed repeatedly and unequivocally that below 2500 ft

(Class G), airspace is unregulated and not part of the CAA’s responsibilities. The use of airspace

below 2500 feet is regulated by the airport during opening hours and not regulated at all after the

airport is closed. We leave aside, for the purpose of this newsletter, the dangers that unregulated

airspace causes (terrorism, for instance) and focus on the Council’s responsibility.

Having had to accept that they had been incorrectly informed with regard to the design and control

of routes below 2500 feet, Bromley now states that operations at Biggin Hill Airport are determined

by a Lease, not by planning laws. This is again not completely correct. There are opportunities that

the Council could use to intervene and mitigate the misery of the residents affected. We have

written to the Aviation Environment Federation, of which Flightpath Watch is a member. They

replied: “…. More importantly, perhaps, is the attitude of the local authority […] irrespective of the

lease, this shouldn’t prevent Bromley from seeking additional opportunities to control activities

through the planning system. It does of course require a planning application but there have been

several over the years. This is how Farnborough operates – the s106 has a clause that requires

regular monitoring and reporting. It could be introduced at Biggin Hill but it would require both the

willingness indicated above and the opportunity.” (29.11.2018)

It is sad to see how Bromley has so little interest in protecting its residents. Now that the circuits

appear to have started again, we need to insist with the Council that it has to exercise duty of care.

MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL

As mentioned in our April Newsletter, the annual renewal fee is now due.

It is £10 for a year.

We hope you appreciate the amount of research and lobbying that our volunteers’ effect

on a regular basis. Their time and effort is totally free, but access to expert advice

through associations such as the Aviation Environment Federation is vital.

The only funding, we have is through membership fees and donations.

We count again on your support. The application form with details of how to pay is attached.  THANK YOU

—————————————————————————————————————-

April 2019

Dear Member

Is this the quiet before the storm? Flightpath Watch has been keeping an eye on events at the airport and

two unravelling and possibly entwined items are cause for concern.

First, you may have seen in the local press that Will Curtis has resigned as the Airport Managing Director

(effective 31st March 2019) and has been replaced, with the enhanced title of CEO, by David Winstanley,

formerly chief operating officer of Birmingham Airport.

Second, it has been documented many times over the past 25 years that Mr Walters, the leaseholder of the

airport, has aspirations to run scheduled services. This aspiration was seconded by the previous Leader of

Bromley Council, Stephen Carr (as reported in the January 2013 minutes to the Airport Consultative

Committee), in spite of the Council having spent a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money to prove

through the High Courts that this is not admissible under the Lease. We trust that the new Leader of the

Council will be more respectful of undertakings, open or implied.

In 2015, Mark Bowen, legal officer and Director of Corporate Services at Bromley Council, wrote that, by

virtue of law s84 of the law of Property Act 1925, the Airport has the right to ask for a change to the Lease

after 25 years of signing (i.e. May this year). We know, from talking to individual councillors, that

scheduled flights would be the ultimate goal if the Lease were to change. Flightpath Watch has however

obtained a more accurate, albeit currently unofficial, legal opinion from the property partner of a major

London firm, which contradicts Mark Bowen’s interpretation because he had overlooked subsections s84

(11) and (11A) of the Act as amended in 1969. The effect of the 1969 amendment is to disapply s84 in the

case of restrictions in the use of any land as an aerodrome when such restrictions are for the benefit of

public authorities.

It is worth mentioning that this is the same Mark Bowen who accepted that the Airport’s unhelpful

definition of “cap on movements” be admitted to the Deed of Variation of the Lease. As explained in

previous letters (June 2018 being the latest on this topic), the Council made a cap of 50,000 flights a year a

condition of approval of the extended hours. However, the definition of the cap as transcribed in the

document forming part of the Deed of Variation states that the cap on movements is only applicable if

there is a breach to the very wide and averaged noise parameters (which are virtually un-breachable)

granted to the Airport. An eminent acoustic expert appointed by Flightpath Watch, who warned the Council

to no avail, stated that “if all the aircraft using LBHA were to become 3 dB less noisy, the movements could

be doubled and the same contour area achieved. It would seem that there was no difference in impact, but

it is highly likely that those living nearby would not perceive the noise reduction from each individual

movement but would notice the doubling of movements and be adversely affected by it.”(ST Acoustics, Nov.

2015, 3.6).

We are therefore very wary of how the Council’s legal officers may apply their interpretation of concepts

and laws.

We are now in 2019 and the Airport has appointed a new CEO from a national airport. It could be that the

Airport’s campaign for the extension of the hours (led by Will Curtis) has been discredited in so far as none

of the material promises made by the Airport has come true (see Flightpath Watch Newsletter dated

November 2018), and the Council is aware of it, or it could be that the Airport is indeed intending to

challenge the Lease again and apply for scheduled flights to be allowed. In any event, fresh blood in the

person of David Winstanley was probably needed to tackle the next challenge.

The question is, are we residents ready to oppose the next threat to our environment? We will keep you

informed as soon as we hear whether our concerns are justified.

Meanwhile, the extra charges during airport shoulder hours (early mornings and late evenings), which were

devised to discourage early and late air traffic, have been cancelled by the Airport.

Please keep reading our newsletters for more information and please renew your subscriptions (or

donations) when they become due in May. A reminder will be sent. It is your contributions that enable

Flightpath Watch to continue its research and obtain professional advice. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Flightpath Watch Ltd

—————————————————————————————————————–

November 2018

Dear Member

,

There was a good attendance at the Flightpath Watch Open Meeting held on

1st October 2018 and a lively discussion which is summarised below. There

was clear concern that further expansion at Biggin Hill Airport (BHA) presents a

threat to our environment and to our everyday lives.

Transport

Concern was expressed about the effect on the local roads infrastructure

resulting from increased activity at BHA and the extended hours. An increase

in traffic has already been evident in Shire Lane, Keston and in Farnborough

Village. The possibilities of widening of Shire Lane and / or the development of

a link road from the M25 were discussed and questions were raised about

where the funding for such projects would come from.

Scheduled Flights

In allowing the Lease to be modified to extend the operating hours at the

Airport, LBB has opened the door to the possibility of it being further changed

and the removal of the restriction on scheduled flights would be one area which

would greatly benefit Biggin Hill Airport Limited (BHAL). There was a

discussion about how much support there would be from LBB Councillors to

prevent any further changes to the Lease, particularly in relation to scheduled

flights. Because the whole borough is not impacted by development at the

Airport, it is difficult to get the necessary majority of opinion to prevent

it. Residents in those areas which are affected must convince the new Leader

of the Council that airport expansion is still a real issue for them.

Helicopters

The increasing number of helicopters flying over this area is clearly causing

some concern, but BHAL is keen to attract more business and a helicopter link

to central London supports this. Helicopter flights are unlikely to decrease.

BHAL pledges

At the time of its request to extend the operating hours at the Airport, BHAL

made a number of pledges, many of which have yet to come to fruition and

some of which were not within its remit anyway. The discussion particularly

centred on aircraft-related noise. Flightpath Watch gave assurances that it

continues to keep pressure on LBB to ensure that BHAL keeps its side of the

bargain, but so far there has been little in the way of response from LBB.

Handling of complaints

Many people expressed frustration at how complaints to BHAL had been

handled. This is also a matter that Flightpath Watch has raised with LBB.

Support from LBB Councillors

With the exception of the local Councillors in Petts Wood, the reluctance of

other LBB Councillors to engage with residents on issues regarding the Airport

is a cause for concern. Although promised as part of BHAL’s campaign to win

the extended hours, a Monitoring Officer working at the Council has yet to be

appointed and there appears to be a definite bias in favour of BHAL in

decisions.

THE FLIGHTPATH WATCH COMMITTEE THANKS YOU FOR YOUR

CONTINUED SUPPORT.

Kind regards,

Flightpath Watch Ltd

June 2018

Dear Member

You will remember that Biggin Hill Airport made nine pledges to residents when it

launched its survey in support of extended operating hours. The new operating

hours were implemented on 1st May 2017. A year later, we think it useful to look

at how many of these pledges have been kept.

Pledge 1 – No increase in flights over 2010 levels

This was defined as a cap of 50,000 movements per year. However, the council accepted a distorted

definition of this cap, so that it is only valid for five years (presumably from the date of implementation of

the new hours on 1st May 2017, but this is not clear). After the first 5 years, the cap is linked to an average

noise metric that could effectively see the number of movements escalate exponentially since modern

aircraft are becoming relatively less noisy. An eminent acoustic expert appointed by Flightpath Watch

stated that “if all the aircraft using LBHA were to become 3 dB less noisy, the movements could be doubled

and the same contour area achieved. It would seem that there was no difference in impact, but it is highly

likely that those living nearby would not perceive the noise reduction from each individual movement but

would notice the doubling of movements and be adversely affected by it.”(ST Acoustics, Nov. 2015, 3.6). It is

also worth highlighting that the January 2018 minutes of the Airport Consultative Committee put the yearly

total for 2017 at 49,457 movements.

When questioned on this point (repeatedly) by a resident, Council’s solicitor Marc Bowen finally admitted

on 23rd June 2016 that: “I would acknowledge that the test will come if at a future date the Council needs to

‘enforce’ the provision”. In spite of having been warned about this weakness in both language and

methodology when defining and enforcing the cap, the Council proceeded to sign the Deed of Variation

approving the increase in operating hours without any amendment or clarification.

THE REALITY: we have a cap that cannot be enforced.

Pledge 2 – No new runways – we don’t need them

It actually transpired that the opposite was true: the airport did not even want the second of the two

runways it had. The smaller of the two, R29/11, has now been converted into a parking area for

Bombardier aircraft and the flying schools (the main users of R29/11) have been given six months to

relocate to other airports. After all the support the flying schools, their pilots and clients, gave BHAL at the

time of the survey, they must feel truly betrayed.

THE REALITY: the airport is increasingly replacing light aircraft with large aircraft. This will help maintain the

cap for a while longer, but the substitution is not advantageous to the local residents.

Pledge 3 – No commercial airlines – we want to stick to business aviation

There are two aspects to this statement:

A) If BHAL intends to keep to business aviation, will it stop flights to holiday destinations?

B) Is BHAL intending to renounce its aspiration for scheduled flights?

A) Whilst we believe that it is the airport’s intention to avoid the cheaper end of tourism, we know that

flights to holiday destinations (Sardinia, Cote D’Azur, Malaga, Alicante, Sevilla, ski resorts, etc) are

often advertised on the Empty-Leg sections of operators such as FlyVictor or PrivateFly. This

contravenes the Permitted User Clause in the Lease, as defined in 2000 at the Courts of Appeal. While

trying to unravel certain definitions of Business Aviation proposed by the Airport, the judge stated

(clause 122): “This is all the more so when one appreciates the true extent of the “Paris” point, that it

would enable BHAL for example to operate weekend or Christmas flights to Paris which clearly have no

likely business connection whatever”. After spending considerable time, energy and money to take the

Airport to the High Courts, the Council now seems inexplicably reluctant to enforce the judgement it

fought for.

B) In October 2014, at the same time as it was making the above pledge, the Airport made a submission

to the House of Commons Transport Committee (published in March 2015), on the subject of Small

Airports (written evidence number 30, item 4.7): “The London Borough of Bromley as Freeholder, will

need to approve the forthcoming application by the tenant (BHAL) to [increase the operating hours

and] allow passengers who paid a fare to have access to the airport on a quantified basis … “ BHAL

have now obtained the increase in hours. An application for the second part of the proposal, i.e. the

introduction of fee-paying passengers (prohibited by the Permitted User Clause of the Lease as defined

at the Court of Appeal in 2000) may follow. It is then just a small step to the introduction of

commercial/scheduled airlines.

THE REALITY: Flights to holiday destinations already operate at the airport, contrary to a High Court

judgement, and we fear that scheduled airlines will come next.

Pledge 4 – No expansion beyond the existing airport boundary

In September 2013, Regional Airlines, the parent of BHAL, bought the Milking Lane Farm, located at the

Northern end of the main (now the only) runway. During a question-time session at the Council, we asked

for the map indicating the “existing” boundary of the airport to be made available. A council officer was

prepared to show it but Councillor Carr, a staunch BHAL supporter, stopped him from doing so. We still do

not have an answer to our question but it is fair to assume that the boundary of the airport has been

extended to incorporate the Milking Lane Farm. In addition, the airport has asked for certain green-belt

areas within the boundary to be excluded from the green belt.

THE REALITY: The airport is likely to have already expanded beyond the original boundary and construction

may occur on green-belt areas if the Council authorises the Airport’s request.

Pledge 5 – New noise monitoring equipment with full public access to the data, and new noise limits

enforced by the Council

In exchange for the considerable (24%) increase in operating hours, BHAL offered to implement a noise

monitoring and track-keeping system, accessible by the public. The system is now in operation but:

1. The noise limits accepted by Bromley Council are so wide and averaged over 16-hour periods that they

are virtually ‘un-breachable’. The Noise Monitoring part of the System is therefore worthless.

2. The system also allows for track-keeping of aircraft (of which there are many breaches) however the

Airport has not made the correct tracks available on the system, so that it is difficult for the average

resident to know when an aeroplane is off track. The airport’s flying routes are however available on

its website and we have become familiar with them. Even when we are sure that there is a breach, the

airport either denies it or, more recently, refuses to answer by providing a general statement.

3. The track-keeping system does not appear to be calibrated correctly. Residents who have experienced

a flight right overhead, find that the system records it some 500/600 metres away. The airport has

been alerted but is refusing to acknowledge or address the point.

4. One of the conditions for approval of the hours was that a council officer would be employed to

supervise compliance with the requested conditions – there is no sign yet that this officer is going to

be appointed.

THE REALITY: The noise-monitoring and track-keeping system appears to be a tool for the airport to silence

residents rather than for the residents to be offered protection from malpractice.

Pledge 6 – New approach procedures keeping planes higher for longer

The intention was to keep aeroplanes above 3000 ft for longer before they started their descent. A trial

was announced in March 2015 but came to nothing. Now very large aircraft overfly the hospital and

residential communities around Crofton and Farnborough at less than 1500 ft.

The airport also promised a new route to the southern end of the runway (R03) that would reduce the

impact on the communities to the North of the airport by some 30%. Two years later, on 31st May 2018,

the CAA informed us that the proposal had finally reached them but no timing has been offered for its

approval. We are informed that the analysis of the proposal will take 16 weeks once started.

THE REALITY: Planes are NOT flying higher and, because of the size of aircraft now using Biggin Hill, the

impact on residents has increased considerably.

Pledge 7 – Preventing light aircraft flying over residential areas

With the relocation of the flying schools to other small

airports, training circuits by light aircraft have reduced and

will continue to reduce. However, it appears that a new trend

has started, with large aircraft now using those circuits for

their training and maintenance testing. The effect is

devastating, as large aeroplanes have started to circle

repeatedly, at speed and at low level over the homes of many

residents, particularly in the sky over Keston and Hayes (see

image to the right).

THE REALITY: light aircraft will reduce in numbers but large aircraft flying and circling at low level are on the

increase.

Pledge 8 – Annual Festival of Flight protected

Festivals of Flights have indeed been organised every year over the past few years. The next will be on 18th

and 19th August 2018.

THE REALITY: This pledge is the only pledge being kept.

Pledge 9 – A new aviation training college

Given that this was advertised by the Airport, we all expected BHAL to build and run the aviation college. At

a recent public meeting in Green Street Green, an airport officer was still stating that “BHAL” would be

starting work in January/February 2019.

However, it is now known that:

A) the cost will be in the region of £12 million, mainly provided by the tax-payers via the GLA.

B) Bromley Council will provide at least £1 million, but it is revealing that, in the minutes of the January

2018 meeting of the Airport Consultative Committee, BHAL expressed the view that “this should be

used on road improvements to make the site viable”. As we know from a recent LoCate document “A

Case for Growth”, road infrastructure is one of the airport’s main requirements, so access to the

college may not be the main objective.

C) It is believed that Bromley would be restructuring and refurbishing the ex RAF officers’

accommodation (previously on a long lease to Formula One) and that those buildings would

accommodate the College. However, most courses would be run by Bromley College, which already

has large and well equipped premises on Hastings Road. This prompts the question of whether there

is need for more premises to be funded by the public purse.

D) In the minutes of the January 2018 meeting of the Airport Consultative Committee, the airport

expressed an interest in making use of the Formula One lands and buildings (ex RAF).

E) BHAL will provide aviation and engineering expertise.

THE REALITY: Bromley and London taxpayers will pay for the college and courses will mainly be run by

Bromley College. BHAL will add aviation and engineering expertise.

Kind regards

Flightpath Watch Ltd

April 2018

Dear Member

THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT MESSAGE

The law on data protection is becoming stricter and Flightpath Watch Ltd needs to ensure that you agree to

us using the information that you provided in order to maintain contact.

Our policy is only to use your data as follows:

1) E-mail address for the purpose of circulating our monthly newsletters and other general

communications

2) Postal address for the purpose of monitoring geographical areas of interest

3) We do not contact supporters by telephone, unless the number is specifically provided

4) Never to share your details with any other party.

If you do not want us to maintain contact, please reply to this email just with the word NO. Feel free to add

any other limitations or preferences that may apply to you.

Please help us to keep in touch. THANK YOU.

MEMBERSHIP

Thank you to those members who have already renewed their annual membership. For those who haven’t

yet, would you please send £10 by

1. Cheque to Chairman of Flightpath Watch, 125 Cudham Lane North, Orpington, BR6 6BY

2. Bank transfer to account 58604227, Sort Code 60-08-14 (NatWest)

3. Paypal account via our website http://flightpathwatch.co.uk/

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT

THE APRIL NEWSLETTER

The local elections are soon approaching. Flightpath Watch Ltd is an apolitical group in the sense that we do

not promote any wide-ranging political policies and have members belonging to all political parties, however

we are of course keeping abreast of statements made by candidates, both at local and national level, on

matters that may affect our environment and the enjoyment of our homes. We cannot and do not want to

influence your choice on any local political matters but we list below our understanding of each candidate’s

position in the Biggin Hill ward, the most relevant, albeit not necessarily the most affected, when it comes to

development at the airport.

These are the candidates:

Julian Benington and Melanie Stevens, previous Conservative candidates but now standing as Independent,

have always been staunch supporters of development at the airport, against, it would appear, the wishes of

the people of Biggin Hill. During Flightpath Watch’s campaign against the extension of the operating hours,

which we correctly feared would have helped increase traffic of large aircraft and helicopters, 83% of the

residents of Biggin Hill who responded to our survey voted against the increase in hours, yet Julian Benington

and Melanie Stevens voted in favour. They also supported the current development of the St George’s Chapel

against wide local protest.

Linda Hewitt and Toby Sims, the new Conservative candidates, have expressed awareness that the airport

causes serious environmental issues and have criticised their own party for the treatment of the residents’

wishes on both matters of extension of the hours and the choice of the architectural design for the St

George’s Chapel. Controversially, they also stayed away from a debate organised by the Biggin Hill Residents

Association (which we understand has some 300 members), who have received a donation of £5000 a year

from the Airport since at least 2009 and often speak up in its favour. However, the Conservative candidates

have recently participated in a visit to the airport by the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom.

Karen Wheller and Paul Enock, representing the Green Party, have not openly pronounced themselves on

their stance on development at the airport in this instance but we are aware from our campaign against the

increase in the hours that they have spoken up against damage to the environment and sleep deprivation.

They are also aware of the plans for growth that the Airport have recently presented (this was also the topic

of our January and February newsletters).

Julian Granger and Emmett Jenner of UKIP have not mentioned the airport in their current campaign but

expressed themselves in favour of development on previous occasions.

Clive Gunby, representing Labour, has recently complained to the Biggin Hill News about the recent decision

by Biggin Hill airport to terminate the leases of its resident flying schools. His running partner is Tim Fisher.

Geoff Gossht of the Liberal Democrats sits on the General Committee of the Biggin Hill Residents Association.

It is also of interest that an employee of the airport, Colin Hitchins, is standing as a Conservative candidate in

Cray Valley West.

Whoever your preferred candidates, the points that are relevant to our cause and that you might want to

communicate to them (in other wards as well of course) are:

1. The airport has recently published its “Plan for Growth”, which includes more hangars and expansion of

roadways (please see our January and February newsletters)

2. The number of helicopters on their shuttle service from the airport to London has already significantly

increased and is likely to continue to do so as air traffic from larger aircraft continues to grow, taking the

place of the light aircraft of the flying schools and of private owners

3. The Piaggio Avanti continues to grate on residents’ ears. Given the very wide and averaged noise

measures allowed by Bromley Council, this aircraft is well within the limits, however there is a clause in

the Lease (Clause f on page 65) that allows the Council, should it receive a large number of complaints

from residents (which they already have) to ban unwanted aircraft. The Piaggio is supposed to have

been replaced by a new, less strident, model, therefore banning the old model from using Biggin Hill

should be feasible, particularly as a couple of airports in the US have already done so.

4. Bombardier have announced that their new aircraft Global

Express 7000 will now be using Biggin Hill. The picture

shows the Global Express 7000. With a wingspan of 32m

and a length of 34m, it is only marginally smaller than a

Boeing 737, which also visits the airport regularly in its

business version, the Boeing Business Jet, which is built in

the body of a commercial B737.

Although aircraft are becoming less noisy, the visual impact is obviously compensating for that. Also, we

cannot forget that Bromley Council have allowed a noise measure (the LAeq16h) that allows a doubling

of the number of aircraft at every 3db reduction in noise. We know from several experts that such a

minimal reduction in noise will hardly be noticed, while the doubling in numbers will have a considerable

impact on residents.

Considering that the cap in movements at 50,000 per annum accepted by Bromley Council is based on

the same measure, there is a serious danger that this cap is not going to be respected for long. We need

to continue to exercise pressure on the Council to keep the airport to the spirit rather than the letter of

their undertaking, which was not presented correctly to our councillors by the council officers.

Thank you

Flightpath Watch Ltd

March 2018

Dear Member

You may have noticed the recent announcement by Biggin Hill Airport to Bromley Council that the flying

schools have six months to relocate to other airports nearby (Redhill, Surrey and Damyns Hall Farm, Essex).

The move is supposed to ensure greater safety by reducing the mix of large and light aircraft, but the Falcon

Flying School, which has operated at Biggin Hill for 70 years, disputed this in an interview with the BBC

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43432123).

The other possible reason is that the landing fees for large aircraft can be 10 times larger than the landing

fees for light aircraft. Therefore the Airport’s aim may be to attract a larger number of business jets and

reduce the number of light aircraft. The extension of the operating hours that became effective in April

2017 marked the beginning of this important shift. Flightpath Watch had warned pilots of small aircraft

(strong supporters of the increase in operating hours) that they were promoting the end of their term at

Biggin Hill as well as causing damage to the local residents and environment. We derive no pleasure in

having been proved right.

In its message to the Council, the Airport envisages that aircraft movements will decline from around

50,000 movements per annum to about 30,000 movements per annum. Of course this may be only short

term as the gap may now be filled by large aircraft, such as the Global Express, the Gulfstream 650 and the

Falcon7X. The airport is also visited by Boeing 737 and Airbus 320, not to mention the small but irritating

(according to many comments by residents) Piaggio 180 Avanti.

It is also worth mentioning that, on 19th December 2017, the Airport commented on a 23% increase in

departures in the last quarter of 2017 compared with the same quarter in 2016. Robert Walters, Business

Development Director, stated: “In addition to a surge in corporate aviation movements, this time of year is

also popular for pleasure travel, with flights out of London Biggin Hill heading to seasonal destinations

across Europe”. We of course know that tourism is NOT allowed in the Lease and will need to return to

remind Bromley Council of this.

And now some information related to Flightpath Watch itself. Thanks to the continuing interest and

support of its members, Flightpath Watch, now Flightpath Watch Ltd, is continuing to progress and develop

in order to be better positioned to pursue its aim to protect our environment from pollution from the sky.

Two specific events are noteworthy:

FLIGHTPATH WATCH IS NOW A MEMBER OF HACAN (http://hacan.org.uk/)

Most of you probably know that HACAN was founded in the 1970s to monitor expansion at Heathrow. The

group has grown over the years and is now well reputed and considered by both the CAA and the Ministry

for Transport. It was the only campaigning group in the South East of England to be heard by the Airports

Commission.

In 2016 HACAN incorporated the group fighting expansion at City Airport under the name HACAN EAST.

Flightpath Watch will not be incorporated into HACAN but operate as an associate member. Such

association will allow us to receive vital information on all aviation matters and also to have our area

represented in discussions about the impact of Heathrow on residential areas.

As we explained in our November Newsletter, our area is affected by the stacking of large aircraft circling at

low level before initiating their descent into Heathrow. Such stacking is particularly noisy and intrusive in

the early hours of the morning, sometimes from 4.30 am, when large jumbo jets from across the Atlantic

circle as low as 5000 feet. We believe that HACAN will help us to gain visibility in discussions about

flightpaths at Heathrow when so far we have had none.

FLIGHTPATH WATCH IS A MEMBER OF THE AVIATION ENVIRONMENT FEDERATION (AEF)

(https://www.aef.org.uk/)

AEF was founded in 1975 when aviation began to grow rapidly and is now the principal UK body

campaigning exclusively on the environmental impacts of the sector. As aviation is exempt from noise

nuisance legislation, AEF seeks to influence national policy.

Flightpath Watch has now access to all the research produced by the AEF and our representatives attend

its seminars regularly.

As mentioned in the most recent newsletters, our membership year will begin again in April, therefore

please see attached our membership form for 2018/2019. The membership annual fee remains at £10.

We hope you will continue to support our efforts to protect our living environment and mitigate the impact

of aviation noise and pollution in our area.

THANK YOU

Flightpath Watch Ltd

February 2018

Dear Member

You may recall that last month’s Newsletter addressed the first three of six two-pronged courses of

action by Biggin Hill Airport for its continuing growth. This month we will focus on the second three,

which deal mainly with infrastructure and the need for more Green-Belt land to be released for

development.

Facilitate lasting and sustainable

infrastructure for the region to enhance the

value of Biggin Hill Airport

7. Create better access to the M25 to

support new investment and growth in

South East London, Kent and Sussex

8. Extend the Bakerloo line to Hayes – this

will transform South East London’s

accessibility

Provide local policy and investment support 9. Align the policy environment to support

future investment and employment

growth at Biggin Hill Airport

10. Support the strategic realignment of

Green Belt to capitalise on the airport’s

growth potential within the airport’s

boundary

Retain Biggin Hill Airport SOLDC status to

optimise the value of improved surface access

and training for young people

11. Enhance the local road network to

provide better visitor and employee

access to the airport

12. Support the airport’s education and

training initiatives as well as its plans to

build an aviation college

INFRASTRUCTURE

A) The idea of a connection to the M25 (point 7) is

not new. The Airport first raised it some 15 years

ago. Those who thought that Biggin Hill Airport

would be satisfied with the new operating hours

for a number of years were clearly too optimistic.

As feared, the increase in hours is only the first

step.

There is a map in the Locate document (not a

clear map) that seems to indicate a straight route

South from the airport to just above Westerham.

Considering that this is likely to be at the expense

of the tax-payers, it is legitimate to ask how many

residents and businesses would benefit from this public expense. It is similarly legitimate to

ask whether the public should fund the infrastructure around another London airport when the

fierce competition among Biggin Hill, Northolt and Southend airports seems to indicate that

there is more supply than demand at present. Both Northolt and Southend are well located to

serve the need for private and business air traffic to London, with infrastructure already funded

and built.

B) The extension of the Bakerloo Line to Hayes (point 8) is favoured by the Airport over the wishes

of Bromley Council, which would rather have the DLR extended to Bromley North and South or

trams-link services to Crystal Palace. Cllr Colin Smith, now Leader of the Council in replacement

of Cllr Carr, stated in mid-2017 that the extension of the Bakerloo Line would take over the

National Rail lines and deny access to London Bridge, Cannon Street and Charing Cross, which

are far more useful stations to the residents of Hayes. This seems to be corroborated by

responses from Hayes residents to a general survey run by the Department for Transport. Sadiq

Khan is the main supporter of this venture, which is said to cost some £3bn. According to Cllr

Smith, the preferred DLR route to Bromley North would have been cheaper and more useful to

Bromley.

C) The improvement of the local road network (point

11) was raised in a document prepared for the

Airport by planning consultants Lichfields in 2014

(Lichfields, Letter to Bromley, March 2014 and to

the London Mayor, April 2014). It clearly stated

that this private airport, in order to succeed and

expand, needs public money to improve access. It

would be helpful to know which roads in

particular would be enlarged or added and

whether this work would be beneficial to the

community. The map provided in the Locate

document is attached, but it is not clear. The

description says:

1. Invest in the A233 to improve access to Bromley and Orpington town centres.

2. Upgrade road infrastructure and public transport to Vulcan Business Park.

3. Improve the road network to improve access to Fort Halstead.

4. Improve the road network to improve access to Croydon.

Meanwhile we understand that a new access point from Downe Road/New Hill Road to the

airport is being considered.

GREEN BELT

The text in this Locate document only refers to use of the green belt within the airport’s boundary

(point 10). The Council appeared to be very reticent to answer when the question of whether such

airport boundary is now including the farm land bought by the airport in 2014.

Even more concerning is the reference to the need for more green-belt land to be given (donated?)

to the airport in the already mentioned Lichfields’ report: ”There is very little available non-Green

Belt land on the Airport and non-Green Belt land is required to facilitate development …”

The document goes on to specify:

1. “Removing West Camp from the Green Belt will remove one layer of constraint and

potentially make the site more attractive for inward investment… Land with airside access

must be retained for future aviation use”.

2. East Camp – “BHAL therefore requests that … the area is removed from the Green Belt”.

3. “To enable future hangar development which has a requirement for airside access there is a

necessity to extend the boundary of South Camp northwards and remove this section of land

from the Green Belt”.

4. Terminal Area – “BHAL requests that proposed policy for this area allows for the

redevelopment of the terminal building and aviation development to the north of the

terminal building and that this land is also removed from the Green Belt”.

5. “The map also shows boundaries for West Camp, South Camp and East Camp. BHAL requests

that those boundaries are amended following completion of the on-going work between the

Airport and the Council”. (Lichfields, Letter to Bromley, 24 March 2014, Annex 4, pages

12/15).

It is ironic that, in the 1990s, when the Council was considering whether to retain the airport or

sell the land for development, residents supported the retention of the airport as a green and

open space. It will not be so open now … and we also have large, low flying aeroplanes to ruin

the peace.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE RENEWAL OF THE MEMBERSHIP TO FLIGHTPATH WATCH WILL BE DUE IN

APRIL 2018. THE MEMBERSHIP FEE REMAINS AT £10. THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUING

SUPPORT.

Kind regards,

Flightpath Watch

January 2018

Dear Member

Some of you might be already aware that Biggin Hill Airport has published, on its Locate website, a new study

entitled “The Case for Growth”. The link to the full document is https://locateatbigginhill.co.uk/wpcontent/

uploads/2017/10/LOCATE_BROCHURE_WEB.pdf.

In the document, the Airport lists 6 two-prong courses of action for its development:

Support business aviation nationally and

internationally – in the interests of exports and

global connectivity

1. Promote inward investment and export services

focused on business aviation

2. Align government aviation policy so that it

reflects the strategic importance of business

aviation

Factor the value of the aerospace industry into

strategic planning around the London and South-

East region

3. Provide government support for Biggin Hill as

London’s only specialist business airport

4. Reinforce Biggin Hill Airport’s designation as a

Strategic Outer London Development Centre in

the new London Plan

Acknowledge Biggin Hill Airport’s significance in the

new London Plan – and London’s infrastructure plan

5. Support South East London – the city’s “empty

quarter” – as a growth corridor

6. Re-balance investment in the road network to

support productivity and growth in South East

London

Facilitate lasting and sustainable infrastructure for

the region to enhance the value of Biggin Hill Airport

7. Create better access to the M25 to support new

investment and growth in South East London,

Kent and Sussex

8. Extend the Bakerloo line to Hayes – this will

transform South East London’s accessibility

Provide local policy and investment support … 9. Align the policy environment to support future

investment and employment growth at Biggin

Hill Airport

10. Support the strategic realignment of Green Belt

to capitalise on the airport’s growth potential

within the airport’s boundary

Retain Biggin Hill Airport SOLDC status to optimise

the value of improved surface access and training

for young people

11. Enhance the local road network to provide

better visitor and employee access to the airport

12. Support the airport’s education and training

initiatives as well as its plans to build an aviation

college

As a preamble to the recipients of the document (presumably politicians in the main but possibly also investors)

Biggin Hill Airport defines itself as a World Class Business Aviation Airport and states that its vision for growth was

supported by 79% out of 15,000 residents consulted (page 22). As Flightpath Watch established by means of an

extensive survey, 90% of the local population was in fact opposed to development at the airport and in particular

to the longer operating hours (longer than at all of City, Farnborough and Northolt airports).

We also demonstrated that the survey by Bromley Council was severely flawed, to the point that even the then

Leader of the Council, Cllr Carr, a staunch supporter of development at the airport, had to advise the Executive, at

a meeting held after the full Council meeting on 25 November 2015, to disregard the survey in their

considerations (unfortunately too late to change incorrectly based opinions).

Without wanting to halt good business for the airport, it is important that the truth about the extent of the local

support is told and that we remind our politicians of the above. We will be writing to all relevant political figures

to try and re-establish the correct balance and would ask you to do the same.

Moving on to the 6 courses of action indicated in the Airport’s report, we address the first three here and the

other three in our next Newsletter.

ONE This is generic in nature. Our only interest in the growth at the airport is in how this can

be accommodated within our living environment, which is more accurately described in

the following steps

TWO Biggin Hill claims to be London’s only specialist business airport. Recently news has

surfaced that business aviation is also being sought by Southend Airport, which offers

the same helicopter shuttle to London, and by Northolt Airport, where the Council

Leader is vehemently arguing to maintain commercial flights to Northolt Airport and

openly accuses Biggin Hill of underhand tactics to foment adverse public opinion in order

to move their commercial flights to Biggin Hill (Hillingdon People magazine, Jan/Feb

2018 edition, page 12 https://www.hillingdon.gov.uk/hillingdonpeople).

We cannot comment on such accusations, apart from being mindful of the surveys run in

Bromley and the fact that the majority of the population here is not supportive of an

increase in flights over us. It would be beneficial to our environment if not ALL business

flights flew to Biggin Hill, particularly as business aviation is “a fast growing market” and

“80% of aviation flights are for business purposes” (Locate, page 25).

As we all know, we have been offered a cap of 50,000 flights per year, but that cap has

not been properly recorded in the MIL, as all of the Council, our local MPs and the

Ombudsman have been made aware of by Flightpath Watch.

THREE Our residential areas are referred to as

the city’s “empty quarter” and defined

as a “growth corridor”. The graph on the

right, taken from page 27 of the Locate

document, shows where Biggin Hill

Airport is intending to change the nature

of our living environment (see area

marked in green) by asking the public

purse to increase infrastructure and

curtail our green belt.

Of course, air traffic cannot be limited to

the area marked in green as residents in most of Bromley and some adjacent boroughs

know well as they are already being affected by the increase in large aircraft and

helicopters.

We would also like to comment on the phrase “Re-balance investment in the road

network to support productivity and growth in South East London”. Considering that the

airport is the only business in the area (a private business) requiring greater access, it

seems unjustifiable to spend public resources to support very modest employment,

particularly as other airports in the South-East have already been provided public

funding for sufficient infrastructure to serve the current aviation needs. This is

demonstrated by the acrimonious competition between airports we have already

referred to (Hillingdon People magazine, Jan/Feb 2018, page 12).

These will be the subject of our next Newsletter.

To conclude, it appears that our need to be aware of events at the airport continues relentlessly. We have

therefore decided to continue our membership scheme.

The current year’s membership expires in April and we

will be circulating our renewal reminder in the next couple of months. The membership fee will remain at £10.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Flightpath Watch

November 2017

Dear Member

As you are probably aware, the sky over and around Biggin Hill airport is also affected by air

traffic directed to Heathrow airport. This is particularly noticeable in the early morning (as

early as 4.30 am) and is particularly disturbing because large aircraft circle over us at

decreasing altitudes (sometimes as low as 5000 feet) while waiting to be given permission

to land. It is not unprecedented to be subjected to a couple of jumbo jets circling four or

five times over us – the earlier they are, the more they need to circle because Heathrow

only has a limited number of night-time slots. Also, the closer they are to the busy time of 6

am, again the more they need to circle until they are allowed to land. Please see recent

screenshots below, taken from the Biggin Hill recording system but related to Heathrow

traffic.

All surveys and publicity by either government or press refer to residents living under the

final landing route. Whilst there is no denying that noise and sleep disturbance for such

residents is severe, as you can guess from the images above, this does not mean that our

area should be disregarded.

So much so that BHAL offered, as a condition for the approval of extended hours of

operation, to have the beacon located at Biggin Hill (the one responsible for attracting the

circling and stacking of aircraft over our area) relocated. Bromley Council listed this

condition as Condition 16 and declared it “satisfied”. It is however obvious that it was not in

the power of BHAL to offer this condition. Moreover, recent information seems to suggest

that there would be no material decrease in the circling and stacking by Heathrow air traffic

over us even if the beacon were to be removed from the airport’s grounds. Bromley Council

were clearly hasty in considering this condition satisfied.

There have been several surveys this year and Flightpath Watch has contributed to nearly all

of them, however most did not allow commentary that could be tailored to our area.

Now there is a survey by the CAA (this is a short one), which closes on 5th January 2018.

We would kindly ask you to take the time to click on the attached link

https://consultations.caa.co.uk/policy-development/aviation-noise-impacts/ and spend a

few minutes filling in the questionnaire. Again, the survey is not related to our area but

there are a few occasions when tailored commentary can be made by clicking on the

“Other” button. For instance:

Question 4 – if you click “Other” you can make the point that, as well as big jumbo jets

headed for Heathrow, we are also affected by large aircraft of a size equivalent to a B737

(Gulfstream 650, Falcon 7X, Global Express 6000, as well as B737) flying below 2500 ft to

and from Biggin Hill.

Question 5 – In addition to selecting three causes of concern, there is a box called “Other”,

where the point can be made that, coming from the experience of a Noise Action Plan

recently introduced at Biggin Hill, it has become apparent that noise is considered as an

average and that this deviates from the reality of how residents experience noise. Any noise

limit based on averages gives rise to an exponential increase in number of flights (which we

would notice) for every small decrease in decibels (which we would not notice). By way of

explanation, you may remember that some of the money generously donated to Flightpath

Watch was used to employ a very well reputed Aviation and Acoustic Consultant (who was

also employed to advise the Government). He stated that: “If all aircraft using BHAL were 3

dB less noisy, the movements could be doubled and the same contour area achieved […] It

is highly likely that those living nearby would not perceive the noise reduction but would

notice the doubling of movements and be adversely affected by it.” (ST report, 3.16)

Question 7 – You can click as many options as you consider appropriate but do not forget to

click on “Other” and make the point that there is need for an independent body, which is

capable of taking into consideration noise generated by an accumulation of both local air

traffic, large jumbo jets circling at 7000 ft (sometimes as low as 5000 ft) from 4.30 in the

morning as well as an increasing number of helicopters. As we are not under the final

landing stages into Heathrow, we are not considered in their “noise contours” but

experience serious disturbance nonetheless.

Question 8 – here the point can be made again in “Other” that all the authorities listed in

the offered selection are self-motivated and that an independent body is needed to ensure

objectivity.

Question 9 – this asks about “anything else”. Here we have the opportunity of stating that

Biggin Hill air traffic is below 2500ft and that no authority other than Bromley Council is

responsible for routes and noise. We know that Bromley Council is too busy and, in

fairness, inexperienced, to monitor the airport in any meaningful way. For your

information, we have already raised this point with an officer at the CAA. The point has

been acknowledged but put on the back-burner. It would help if this issue were to be

reinforced by your comments to this survey.

Thank you.

Kindest regards,

Flightpath Watch

October 2017

Dear Member

We have been made aware that responses to complaints made to BHAL by residents are

failing to address the issues raised adequately. Thank you to those who have passed on

examples to us and apologies about not responding to everybody individually. We have

however noted certain trends in both complaints and responses.

The main issues appear to be:

HELICOPTERS NOT RESPECTING NOISE SENSITIVE AREAS

DEPARTURES OFF TRACK BY BOTH LARGE AND LIGHT AIRCRAFT

CIRCUITS OVER RESIDENTIAL AND NOISE SENSITIVE AREAS

If other issues (such as ground running) present reasons for concern, please let us know.

You may remember that many of the conditions imposed by the Council are ineffective or

irrelevant. The only defence mechanism offered to residents is the use of the airport’s Noise

Monitoring and Track Keeping system.

We made the point in the past that Noise Monitoring is irrelevant, because of the very wide

and averaged-out noise parameters granted by the Council to the Airport. We therefore

suggested focusing on track-keeping, of which there are many infringements. Mr Curtis has

now started to reply: “You will be pleased to know that all aircraft movements are monitored

by the airport Noise Monitoring and Track Keeping System. Those that do not comply with

our required track limits are automatically logged for further action and consideration of a

penalty, therefore you do not need to raise complaints concerning track keeping, and can rest

assured that all these will be dealt with SANARB.” There is however no way of verifying

which aircraft is being reported to SANARB nor whether penalties are being issued.

Meanwhile, infringements continue, which seems to indicate that monitoring of the Track

Keeping system by the Airport is inadequate or that SANARB lacks effectiveness in stopping

aircraft from creating unnecessary disturbance.

In the MIL (Management Information Letter), a document produced by the Airport and

incorporated into the Deed of Variation that granted the Airport a 24% increase in operating

hours, it is stated that certain Noise Sensitive Areas would be established and that both light

aircraft and helicopters using a visual approach (VFR, or Visual Flying Rules) would avoid

such areas. The map of such Noise Sensitive areas is shown below.

When complaints have been made about aircraft flying over Noise Sensitive areas, they have

received a standard response from BHAL as follows: “Having reviewed the radar data, I can

confirm the aircraft you reported followed a standard VFR departure. The aircraft was

following standard procedures, therefore no further action will be taken.” Yet the MIL

requires aircraft using VFR to avoid Noise Sensitive Areas!”

At the Executive Meeting of 15th June 2016, the Executive undertook to appoint a Monitoring

Officer. No such officer has been appointed, therefore please continue to address

Andrew.rogers@bromley.gov.uk. In fact, as some complaints refer to infringements of a

legal document (the MIL), and in particular Section 21, it might be helpful to alert the Senior

Solicitor at susan.fraser@bromley.gov.uk. With regards to helicopters, section 21 of the MIL

states: “The vast majority of helicopters operate under VFR and are therefore treated as light

aircraft and will follow light aircraft routes. Helicopters will therefore be subject to all the

restrictions placed upon light aircraft.”

We have also been informed that Dr Robert Hadley, Chairman of the Bromley Residents

Association Federation, sits on SANARB as the residents’ representative. Therefore it might

be beneficial to alert him about any unsatisfactory reply received from the airport. Please email

him at the e-mail address published on the Council’s website robert.hadley@bt

internet.com.

Residents’ mitigation requests have been consistently rejected by the Council but the Track

Keeping system and the MIL are official commitments by the airport, so we are within our

rights to inform the Council of our concerns.

Flightpath Watch will send a statement to the Council summarising the issues we have been

made aware of, but it would be beneficial if the Council and Dr Hadley were also to hear of

your concerns directly.

Thank you for your continuing attention and support.

Flightpath Watch

August 2017

Dear Member

You may remember that in our July edition we circulated the routes currently in use at Biggin Hill

airport for the larger aircraft. The map is repeated below for ease of reference.

In this edition, we want to show you the routes used by lighter aircraft. Please see picture below or

click on https://www.bigginhillairport.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/BHA-Flight-Routes.pdf for

a clearer image.

Plan A shows all the departure routes for light aircraft. Plan B shows the circuits used for the

training of pilots. Plan C is no longer in constant use since the airport closed the smaller of their two

runways (the one going from West to East) in order to provide aircraft parking for Bombardier’s

activities.

Light aircraft is now openly encouraged by the airport to use Redhill for training purposes in order

not to interfere with the larger aircraft increasingly using the airport, however the circuits described

in Plan B still appear to be in use. Unfortunately, recent experiences suggest that Plan B is now also

used to test large aeroplanes or train pilots on business jets. These have been seen to circle six or

seven times in close succession, at speed and just over 1000 feet, with the circuit now extended over

Keston, Hayes, Crofton and, needless to say, the hospital. Those who have witnessed the effect this

creates over their homes and gardens will no doubt confirm that it is startling and even frightening.

The most frequent culprit is the Cessna Citation 510 jet (see example below) but circling at low level

by the very large Global Express and the medium-size Lear Jet is also occurring. Occasionally two

aeroplanes circle together, providing no respite for about an hour. Sometimes, the “lesson” begins

again a short while later, for another hour.

We have been told by the CAA that below 2500 feet the routes used by the airport are the

responsibility of the local authority. The Council has already been alerted by at least a couple of

residents that such circuits should not take place over densely populated residential areas and a

major hospital, for safety as well as noise reasons, but no information about the action the Council

intends to take (if any) has yet been received. It is important that you notify the Council as the

responsible party if you happen to witness any more of these exercises. Please contact your local

councillors and Andrew Rogers at Andrew.rogers@bromley.gov.uk if these circuits continue to be

used by jets and other large aircraft.

Kind regards

Flightpath Watch

July 2017

Dear Member

We thank all of those who attended the Flightpath Watch Annual General meeting last month and

showed their continuing interest and support.

The main topics were:

1. The majority of the promises and undertakings made by the airport have not been kept and

the Council has not done its duty in upholding those promises.

2. In particular, the main undertaking to keep the number of movements below 50,000 a year

has been worded in such a manner that it now does not represent a cap at all. The number

of movements has now been linked to a noise measure that in fact allows for an exponential

multiplication of movements over and above the promised 50,000 and, worse, has taken

away the ability of the Council to intervene. We wonder how many councillors are aware of

this, considering that even the Leader is still under the impression that there is a cap.

3. The Noise Monitoring and Track Keeping (NMTK) system is now operational. Unfortunately,

the noise allowance is so wide and based on averages that complaining about noise is futile.

Track keeping is more worthwhile, since there are many examples of breaches, some

acknowledged by the Airport. It is therefore worth using the system to complain. The

access page is on the airport’s website on the bottom right corner (see screenshot). The

steps to access it are self-explanatory but remember that there is a 45 minutes delay, so you

need to make a note of the flight and check it out later.

4. When complaining about aircraft track keeping, it is worth noting the published flying routes

for the larger planes (we will talk about the smaller planes in the next newsletter). These are

shown below. If you note that an aircraft deviates from these routes, please do use the

complaint system and let the airport know.

There is much more, but we do not want to overburden you with too many issues, so we will

reserve a few for the next newsletters.

If you are disappointed by the Council’s handling of the promises made and not kept

(particularly the issue of numbers of movements), please let your councillors know.

Kind regards

Flightpath Watch

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