COUNCILLORS have thrown out an application from Biggin Hill Airport to extend operating hours for the Olympic Games.
The airport had requested permission from its landlord Bromley Council to change the lease so it could open from 6.30am to 11pm each day from July 13 to September 23 in 2012.
Its current opening hours are between 6.30am and 10pm in the week and from 9am to 8pm at weekends.
The airport also wanted a relaxation of the ban on fare-paying passengers.
A packed public gallery of around 200 people saw 37 councillors vote against the proposals, eight in favour and 10 abstain, before the council’s executive rejected the airport’s application.
This followed a consultation where almost 95 per cent of the 2,194 responses received opposed the plan with just 112 in favour.
Concerns were raised about creating a precedent for future changes to the lease as well as other fears including an increase in noise pollution.
Farnborough and Crofton councillor Tim Stevens said the proposals would be bad news for the Princess Royal University Hospital, which lies beneath the flight path.
He said: “Doctors and nurses report they have trouble hearing each other when noisy planes are flying over. Surely doctors and patients have a right to enjoy a night’s sleep and work in peace. They will suffer from additional noise.”
From the same ward, Councillor Robert Evans said: “I believe the Olympics have been used as poor camouflage to change the modus operandi of the airport.”
In favour of the application, Copers Cope councillor Michael Tickner said: “The Olympics are a very special event. I can see nothing unreasonable about the airport’s request.
“Almost everyone who has their home near the airport moved into that home many years after the airport was in operation.”
Plaistow and Sundridge councillor Michael Turner said: “This is a one-off case. Now the Olympics are coming we must do everything we can to welcome it.”
Ray Watson, from the campaign group Bromley Residents Against Airport Development, said: “The council obviously had a rush of sense when they saw the large proportion of residents who opposed the airport’s application.
“It would have been a massive disappointment had councillors ignored the misery that would have been caused by the airport expanding.”
Grandfather-of-four Colin Cadman, a former RAF pilot, lives right next to the airport in Leaves Green.
Mr Cadman said he was delighted the council had rejected the proposals, which were “the thin end of the wedge”.
He said: “The airport lost the short game but I’m sure they’re aiming to win the long game.
“Once they change the lease then the door’s wide open for Easyjet and cheap airline operators.
“Everybody is concerned it could end up as a Luton or Manchester.”