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Fears for hospital as planes fly overhead

PUBLISHED: 16:23 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 11:37 12 August 2010

CAMAPIGNERS have fought a long battle to stop creeping expansion of their suburban airport. Flight Path, an umbrella campaign group established to prevent growth of Biggin Hill airport s

CAMAPIGNERS have fought a long battle to stop creeping expansion of their suburban airport.

Flight Path, an umbrella campaign group established to prevent growth of Biggin Hill airport's capacity, say the airport's bosses are set upon expansion.

The group was formed in 1999 when Biggin Hill Airport Limited (BHAL) drew up a development plan asking that one million passengers be allowed to pass through the airport each year.

Since failing in this bid, BHAL has continually tried to expand beyond its capacity of flights, which are limited by its lease with Bromley council, claims Flight Path's chair, Ray Watson.

Mr Watson said: "Over the years the airport has continually tried the patience of the council and residents by putting in applications which have found no favour.

"At the same time this has cost the council and taxpayers a lot of money."

Flight Path oppose expansion of the airport because of noise, pollution, and the danger of accidents, especially with planes flying 15,000ft over the Princess Royal Hospital.

Last November members of Bromley residents' associations said they were surprised when Stephen Carr, leader of Bromley council, spoke of the possibility of relaxing the airport's lease.

However Mr Carr said his idea would help reduce the number of movements from the airport at a time when aviation industry growth was unavoidable.

Mr Carr said: "We have no control over expansion within the airport, and no control over the number of flights that come and go in the first and last hours of the day.

"Is it not worth asking if some non-based aircraft should be allowed to use it and then cap the total numbers of movements allowed a year?"

The council leader said a trade-off was needed if the council were to gain more restrictions on noise and pollution at the airport.

With around 120 take off or landings a day, Biggin Hill airport currently sees around 70,000 movements per year with a cap of 125,000.

On Tuesday Bromley council bosses were due to decide whether to allow a 16,000sq-metre hangar to be built at Biggin Hill airport.

The building was granted planning permission in January but the council must also give permission in its capacity as landlord. Air Partner, who run six Lear Jets and one Hawker 800 from Biggin Hill airport, will use the hangar and expect to add nine new aircraft to their hangers in three years.

A spokesman for Biggin Hill Airport Ltd said: "We have no plans to look at increasing the maximum number of movements at the airport and we see less flights than we did a few years ago. The regulations governing the operations have not changed since 1994 despite advances in aircraft technology and London's emergence as a global centre of finance."

BATTLE OVER BIGGIN HILL

May 1994: Bromley council, owner of the historic airport site, grant Biggin Hill Airport Limited (BHAL) a 125-year lease.

1999: BHAL suggests bringing one million passengers through the airport each year by introducing paid-for ticketed flights. The council hold a consultation to which almost 10,000 residents write in opposition. Bromley council rejects the plans.

2001: BHAL loses an appeal against the decision to reject its development plan.

2003: Airport bosses suggest 500,000 passengers could travel through the airport in a draft airport master plan. Around 4,000 residents write to Bromley council to complain.

The airport never followed up the draft plan.

2006: Members of pressure group Flight Path claimed to see holiday flights from Biggin Hill being advertised. The council's legal team contacted BHAL.

2007: Two plans for 100 bed hotels are submitted by BHAL. They are rejected by the council, and again by a planning inspector and the secretary of state.

November 2007: Leader of Bromley council, Stephen Carr, tells the Bromley Federation of Residents' Associations that he would consider changing the lease to permit more flexible operating hours.

March 30, 2008: Cessna Citation 501 crashes in Romsey Close, Farnborough.

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