Bromley Council not doing enough for the local residents

When Bromley Council granted a 24% increase in operating hours at Biggin Hill Airport in 2015, certain mitigating conditions were attached to the approval, in consideration of the much larger and noisier aeroplanes that the new hours would attract, still flying over us at less than 2500 feet (mostly around 1500 ft).

The Airport has enjoyed the longer operating hours and the business that they have brought for over six years, but the residents have not had their living conditions mitigated by the promised conditions.  We want the Council to keep its word and enforce those conditions.  We are not asking for anything new, just what is due to us.

For any reference to routes or maps, please click on the Flying Routes page.

In particular:

  1. The cap on 50,000 movements per annum 

    We were promised a cap on movements of 50,000 per annum, but it has been breached on several occasions, including in the years the new hours were granted.  However, the Council has done nothing about it. In fact, BHAL are now saying the the cap is 125,000.  We have recently engaged a barrister, who has stated that the cap recognised in the Deed of Variation is still 50,000.  We want the Council to maintain it. The cap is fundamental, because the noise measures have been changed to an an average noise measure over 16 hours, including periods of silence.  Flightpath Watch consulted a top acoustician and aviation expert, ex-member of the DEFRA department that looked into noise measures for the government, who stated that a 3 dB reduction in noise at the airport would allow for a doubling of flights according to the average noise measure accepted by the council.  He also said that a 3dB reduction in noise would hardly be noticed by residents, but the doubling in the number of flights would and they would be affected by it.  THIS CAP WAS A CONDITION OF APPROVAL OF THE NEW HOURS – NO CAP, NO NEW HOURS.

  2. A new approach to Runway 03 (the Southern end of the runway) 

    A new flying route was promised to the Southern end of the runway, that would take away some 30% of air traffic from the built-up areas at the North of the airport. The CAA has now rejected this new route.  In fact, the CAA report shows that BHAL have known all along that this new route presented severe safety challenges for the CAA but continued to try and convince Bromley Council about its deliverability.  WE NOW EXPECT BROMLEY COUNCIL TO SUSPEND THE EXTENDED HOURS – NO NEW ROUTE, NO NEW HOURS. 

  3. Helicopters 

    Helicopters and light aircraft have to avoid certain designated residential areas (noise-sensitive areas). With 23 more helicopters now being based at Biggin Hill by Castle Air, it is important that the noise-sensitive areas are respected, but they are not.  In fact, recognising that helicopter pilots do not follow the Code of Conduct, the Airport’s CEO has asked the pilots (!) to draft their own Code of Conduct, to make it more likely that it is followed. IT WOULD BE UNACCEPTABLE FOR THE COUNCIL TO GIVE IN ON A CODE OF CONDUCT DRAFTED BY HELICOPTER PILOTS TO THE DISADVANTAGE OF THE RESIDENTS.

Moreover, the Lease states that certain Noise Preferential Routes should be followed, but they are not.  Specifically:

  1. Circuits 

    Circuits are allowed by the Lease and there is a map for them.  However, with the much larger aircraft now operating at the airport, and with Bombardier having established its maintenance facilities at Biggin Hill, the current route appears to be too small.  So now we have pilots training on large aircraft circling in close succession over built-up areas, and worse, Bombardier testing engines over the same residential areas.  This is distracting and dangerous.  THE COUNCIL MUST ENFORCE THE CURRENTLY REGISTERED ROUTE, AT LEAST UNTIL A NEW ROUTE IS NEGOTIATED WHICH TAKES THESE DISTRACTING AND DANGEROUS EXERCISES OVER OPEN COUNTRYSIDE.

  2. Routes for take-offs. 

    There are two departure routes, one from each end of the runway.  Both are designed to protect the built-up areas at the North of the airport, the ones that are already overflown by ALL arrivals.  Please refer to the page on Flying routes. Observance of Noise Preferential Routings (NPRs) is contemplated in the Lease. The new large aircraft seldom respect these routes, which puts BHAL in default of the Lease. THE COUNCIL MUST ENFORCE THE CURRENT NOISE PREFERENTIAL ROUTES.  NOT ENFORCING THE LEASE IS A NEGLECT OF ITS DUTY TOWARDS THE LOCAL RESIDENTS.

Also, we believe that the impact of emissions from aircraft using Biggin Hill Airport should be part of Bromley Council’s environmental calculations as they are currently excluded