Bromley Council bosses have backed Biggin Hill Airport's plans to extend its operating hours.

Councillors debated the proposal at a special full council meeting on Wednesday (March 25) at 7pm before a final decision was made by the executive in front of a packed audience of 300 residents.

The Tory executive met in the Great Hall to take the decision immediately after the debate in the Council Chamber with four votes in favour to two against.

The airport has bold development plans to create 2,300 jobs, open an aviation college and cut its noise footprint in half.


'A positive way forward'

News Shopper: Bromley Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr

Bromley Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr

Bromley Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr said: "I, for the first time will go on record in saying I think the proposal is a very positive way forward."

But Councillor Robert Evans and Councillor Tim Stevens, who represent the Farnborough and Crofton ward, voted against the plans.

Coun Stevens told Coun Carr: "I cannot support you on this decision. Instead, I will be supporting my residents.

"I do not agree with any of the proposals at all."

Will Curtis, airport managing director, said he was delighted the council had approved the extended hours and thanked residents who supported the plans.

He said: “We do recognise that there remain a significant number of people that continue to have legitimate concerns and our door is always open to them.  

“We will now re-double our efforts and work with the council to develop a comprehensive noise mitigation strategy so we can deliver our promise to reduce the agreed noise footprint of the airport by half.”

'Keen to see the airport survive'

Speaking during the full council debate, Labour leader Councillor Angela Wilkins welcomed the opportunity for more jobs, skills and training.

She said: “I am keen to see the airport survive. If we don’t support the airport in this expansion then it may well deteriorate against competition.”

Councillor Peter Dean and Councillor Nicholas Bennett also spoke in favour of the expansion.

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Biggin Hill Airport

Petts Wood and Knoll ward councillors opposed

But Councillor Douglas Auld, Councillor Simon Fawthrop and Councillor Tony Owen, who represent the Petts Wood and Knoll ward, all spoke out against the plans.

Waving his copy of the council agenda report in the air, Coun Owen said: “I have only had this report for less than a fortnight and the public have seen it for even less.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that this decision is being ramped through tonight.”

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A map of the responses by ward

Councillors took a vote following the debate with 36 voting in favour, 10 against and 6 executive members abstaining.

Some 31,500 people, out of 41,711 who responded to Bromley Council's largest ever public consultation, supported the airport's proposals.

The council’s consultation, which ran from January to March, gave residents a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ choice on whether they support the plans.

The results supported the airport’s own consultation findings in October last year and an independent opinion poll carried out by the Populus market research agency.

News Shopper:

A breakdown of the number of responses by ward

The proposed changes

The proposed extended hours are 6.30am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday and 8am to 11pm on Sundays and public holidays.

No more than eight flights would depart or land in the first half hour of the day from Monday to Saturday, excluding public holidays, under the proposals.

No more than eight flights would depart or land in the last hour of the day.

The current operating hours are from 6.30am to 10pm from Monday to Friday and 9am to 8pm on weekends and public holidays.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Carr said: “We have always said that our objectives are to see a successful airport whilst balancing the needs of residents for peace and quiet and this decision has these principles at the heart of them.”

The council’s decision is now subject to further negotiations with Biggin Hill Airport before a formal agreement is confirmed later in the year.