24th May, 2011
The London Plan is the spatial strategy for London. At the ‘Examination in Public’ (EiP) last autumn AEF was invited to present its views on the draft Plan, following written representations. The report of the Panel of inspectors has now been published.
By the time the EiP was held, the coalition government had announced that it was opposed to a third runway at Heathrow. This was supported in the plan, which was unsurprising as Mayor Boris Johnson is Conservative. However the draft Plan said “.. he [the Mayor] does recognise the need for additional runway capacity in the south-east of England.” AEF argued that this was gratuitous, because no evidence was presented to this effect and the national government was not of this view, having come out against extra runways in the SE, not just at Heathrow. The Panel agreed, noting also that airports outside London were outside the remit of the London Plan, and they recommended that the statement be deleted.
The Panel also recommend that the following statement be inserted “.. supports the government statement of 7 September 2010 opposing mixed-mode operations and supporting runway alternation, westerly preference and related measures to mitigate noise effects on local communities. He also supports phasing out of scheduled ATMs during the night-time quota period.”
We also said that Noise Action Plans and designated ‘Quiet Areas’ should be specifically mentioned in the Plan. This was done, the Panel recommending this addition “The Mayor will support action by Airport Operators to prepare Noise Action Plans for London’s Airports and by the Boroughs to identify and implement “Quiet Areas” with a view to ensuring that environmental issues are suitably taken into account alongside economic considerations when dealing with aviation-related development”. However, this statement is rather double-edged. It seems to endorse a widespread conventional view that environment and quality of life can be sacrificed in the name of economic benefits.