Why are we opposed to the airport expanding?
The airport claim that their plans are all about safety. Having seen the airports business plan this is clearly not the case. The proposed changes will allow the airport to attract dramatically more commercial and business flights. In fact, the nature of the airport will change as the larger aircraft required to fund the changes displace the light aircraft that currently dominate.
The airport has suggested that the number of aircraft movements would remain the same, or could even be reduced. The recently published copy of the airports own 'five-year plan' indicates that this is not the whole story. It appears that the airport is determined to attract larger jet aircraft types that cannot currently use the runway (p.23). The airport predict that the addition of an Instrument Landing System will attract at least 3,200 additional training approaches each year. It is not clear to us how this would lead to an overall reduction in traffic.
The airport is currently, and always has been, predominantly used by light aircraft. A dramatic increase in the proportion of jet aircraft using the site would represent a significant change in the nature of the noise and pollution generated by the site.
The predicted increase in jet traffic would lead to a corresponding increase in noise nuisance. This is due in part to noisier aircraft, but the noise would also be increased by aircraft flying lower and nearer the airport perimeter when landing
It is currently normal practice for the airport to operate outside its published opening times. There does not seem to be any control on the number or type of out of hours operations. An increase in corporate jet traffic could only lead to even more early morning, evening and night time operations. The airport management has stated that they would be prepared to increase opening hours if demand makes doing so viable.
The predicted increase in jet traffic would lead to a corresponding increase in pollution. The 'five-year plan' predicts that each additional 'business' jet will use 1000 litres of 'JET A1' fuel each flight (p.25 & 26). They also predict at least a thousand additional 'corporate' jet movements each year, representing at least a million extra litres of fuel burned by these aircraft. This is in addition to the the fuel burned during the 3,200 additional training approaches and any additional scheduled services.
We are concerned about the magnitude and the type of pollution caused by jet aircraft. Light aircraft consume roughly the same amounts of fuel as a large family car. It is clear that jet aircraft, burning 1000 litres each flight, consume far more. The small number of jet aircraft currently operating from the airport already leave plumes of nauseous exhaust as they take off and land. We are particularly worried about the known carcinogens and particulates in jet aircraft exhaust fumes.
Aircraft, jet aircraft in particular, are a major source of CO2, which is the gas blamed for global warming. Cheltenham Borough, Gloucester City and Tewkesbury Borough Councils recognise this problem, and have signed the 'Nottingham Declaration' on climate change. At a time when every effort must be made to reduce emissions, the proposed changes would lead directly to an increase.
If the currently proposed expansion goes ahead it will require a significant amount of financial backing from the airport shareholders. The airport is a business, driven by its requirements to return a profit to its shareholders. There will be ongoing pressure to further increase the capabilities and profits of the airport, which the airport will try to justify in the light of the 'investment' by its shareholders.
The airport predicts thousands of additional commercial training approaches each year. Last September 4th a visiting EMB-135 37 seater jet aircraft (in the loudest of the four catagories used by the City of London airport to regulate their noise levels) spent several hours making, we estimate, 12 take-offs and landings. The next day the airport admitted that they had received several complaints about the intensity and duration of the noise. We believe that this type of training could become commonplace.