Policy 6.6 Aviation



A  Adequate airport capacity serving a wide range of destinations is critical to the competitive position of London in a global economy. Airport capacity serving the capital and wider south east of England must be sufficient to sustain London’s competitive position.

B  The Mayor:

a  strongly opposes any further expansion at Heathrow involving an increase in the number of aircraft movements there, due to the adverse noise and air quality impacts already being experienced by residents and others in the vicinity of Heathrow and its environs

b  supports improvements of the facilities for passengers at Heathrow and other London airports in ways other than increasing the number of aircraft movements, particularly to optimise efficiency and sustainability, enhance the user experience, and to ensure the availability of viable and attractive public transport options to access them.

C  The aviation industry should meet its full environmental and external costs. Airport operators should increase the share of access journeys by passengers and staff made by sustainable means, minimize the impacts of airport servicing and onward freight transport, and take full account of environmental impacts when making decisions on patterns of aircraft operation.

Planning decisions

D  Development proposals affecting airport operations or patterns of air traffic (particularly those involving increases in the number of aircraft movements) should:

a  give a high priority to sustainability and take full account of environmental impacts (particularly noise and air quality)

b  promote access to airports by travellers and staff by sustainable means, particularly by public transport.

E  Development proposals for heliports should be resisted, other than for emergency services.

Supporting text

6.28  A number of factors contribute to London’s position as a world city. One of them is its connectivity by air for business, trade, inward investment and tourism. The Mayor does not wish to prevent people from flying or undermine London’s competitive position, and he does recognise the need for additional runway capacity in the south-east of England. However, he agrees with the Government that the noise problems and poor air quality at Heathrow have reached such levels that further increases in the number of air traffic movements there are untenable. He 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 air traffic movements during the night-time quota period. Thus, there is a need for a thorough reappraisal of airport policy in the south-east of England. Within this commitment, however, he supports improvements to London’s airports that will ensure they can be used to optimum efficiency while not necessarily increasing the number of air traffic movements – improving the facilities available to passengers and providing them with the kind of experience that befits a world city, and also ensuring the availability of a range of public transport options for getting to and from airports. Development proposals which affect airport operations (particularly those involving an increase in the number of air traffic movements) should be carefully scrutinised, and particular attention should be given to environmental impacts.

6.29  The Government recognises the importance of aviation to the UK, and is currently implementing the recommendations of the South East Airports Taskforce’s final report. Further to this the government has established an independent Commission (the Davies Commission) tasked with identifying and recommending to government options for maintaining the south east’s status as an international hub for aviation. The Commission was tasked with examining the scale and timing of any requirement for additional runway capacity to maintain the UK’s position as Europe’s most important aviation hub, and seeking to identify and evaluate how any need for additional capacity should be met in the short, medium and long term. The Mayor has made representations to this Commission. The Commission is expected to publish its final report for consideration by the government by summer 2015. The Mayor will monitor its progress and bring forward further alterations to this Plan as necessary. In the meantime, the Mayor will continue to work with partners in neighbouring regions to ensure that existing aviation infrastructure is used to its fullest extent before more expensive and damaging courses are pursued. Wherever runway capacity is located, the Mayor strongly supports efforts to make aviation less environmentally harmful, and promotion of more environmentally sustainable means of accessing airports through ensuring viable and attractive public transport alternatives for travellers – including the proposed High Speed 2 link. The provision of additional public transport capacity to serve the airports should not be to the detriment of non-airport passengers.

6.30  The noise impacts from helicopters can be considerable in an urban environment like London, where there are few locations where a heliport could be located without having major impacts on residents. Accordingly, proposals for new heliports should be resisted.