Farnborough Airport’s planning application to double the number of flights “went live” on Monday, November 13, on Rushmoor Borough Council’s website.
It consists of 68 technical documents and thousands of pages. Very few members of the public, or indeed councils, will have the knowledge or the time to evaluate these documents in the three weeks the public is allowed (responses due by December 4).
Four-thousand people have already signed the petition against the proposals (https://chng.it/fdKyB4sMWM) and there are more than 170 objections on the council’s website.
Farnborough Noise Group is going through the information and will be providing key points to councils and members of the public.
It is ironic that the UK government has this week announced a £150 million fund to support developing countries in tackling climate change while the UK’s largest private jet airport is proposing to generate 1.5 million tonnes a year of CO2 equivalent.
It is madness to pay others for the damage done by a tiny number of very wealthy people in the UK. Just stop the CO2 at source!
What we have found in the documents so far is alarming (and quite frankly unbelievable):
- The airport claims there will be no significant environmental impact resulting from increased emissions or pollution. It also claims only a small number of people will be significantly impacted by noise. But none of these factors have been measured, they have been modelled and we believe the assumptions are biased and the conclusions are wrong.
- As an example of how information has been presented, nitrogen deposition on protected areas is three to seven times the level allowed, yet it is not seen as an environmental issue (nitrogen deposition changes the soil and wildlife balance in designated protected habitats).
- Information has been presented as annual averages which is a convenient way to hide issues. Ultrafine particle pollution, which is widely recognised as harmful to health, and where US airports are being taken to court, has been completely discounted as “not significant”.
- The airport is only permitted to operate “business” flights because it is believed that the harm caused by business flights is justified by the income brought into the country. Yet nearly half of flights are to holiday destinations and flights for people’s pets are widely advertised by businesses like Jets4Pets. If the airport needs the capacity for business flights, just stop the leisure flights that it doesn’t have a licence for.
- While the airport has dropped the proposal to extend weekend hours (that were never needed as there isn’t congestion of flights at the start and end of the days at weekends as claimed by the airport), it has slipped in an increase from 1,200 to 2,500 of the heaviest jets up to 80 tonnes, like Boeing 737s. Given there are on average only 2.5 passengers per plane and these are supposed to be chartered business flights, it is hard to see such a proposal as anything other than trying to convert the airport to a commercial airport with scheduled flights. That may well be the intention of Macquarie to increase the value of the business then sell it on.
- Farnborough Airport Ltd currently only employs 170 people and generates £4.7m in corporation tax and £800,000 to Rushmoor Borough Council in rates. Yet it is claiming an increase in flights will result in 450 more jobs and generate £150m to the local economy by 2045. But the financials provided cover the benefits of all businesses at the airport, many of which have nothing to do with aviation, and the business case includes benefits and none of the costs of the proposals. We have calculated that the flights will reduce impacted property values (houses under flightpaths below 3,000ft) by £2.5 billion. We have not yet quantified the harm to health from pollution and noise or to children’s education where there are 111 schools under the flightpaths below 3,000 ft, many of which can’t have windows open in the summer because of the noise.
We can only hope that the airport’s proposals are given due consideration by Rushmoor Borough Council and the policies are applied to avoid the obvious harm of such a proposal.
By John Eriksson – Farnborough Noise