CONCERNS about using Biggin Hill Airport as an Olympic Games gateway have led to fears the airport’s opening hours will be extended.

An airport newsletter released last week stated: “Biggin Hill is going to be very convenient for the 2012 Olympics and has been forecast to receive many extra flights.”

Under the airport’s lease issued by landlord Bromley Council, flights are not permitted between 10pm and 6.30am in the week and 8pm and 9am at weekends.

But given the schedule of Olympic events, it is feared the airport has approached the council with a view to changing the lease.

Bromley Friends of the Earth secretary Ray Watson said: “Even London City Airport does not have such generous hours and indeed a survey of similar airports to Biggin Hill showed only five out of 90 had better opening hours.

“Undoubtedly the airport will ask for flights later than the current 10pm permitted time simply because the Olympic Games events will not wind up until about that time.

“The airport may benefit from increased profits but residents would be paying the price - more noise, more traffic and more aircraft crash danger.

“Many of these additional trips for the Olympics would be made by helicopters and it’s accepted that helicopters are far noisier than fixed wing aircraft.”

Chairman of the Downe Residents’ Association Derek Powell said: “They want to offer the services of the airport for the Olympics.

“My objection is if it entails changes of the lease then we're not supportive.

“When Brands Hatch used the race track for Formula 1, the drivers and team members used to come in by aircraft to Biggin Hill and were helicoptered to Brands Hatch.

“That was extremely noisy.

“For the Olympics this would be on a much larger scale for a longer period.”

The council confirmed it had received a request from the airport but could not reveal the details at this stage.

Bromley Council leader Councillor Stephen Carr said: “We have received a request from Biggin Hill Airport and as their landlord, we need to carefully examine their proposals.

“We are aware of the interest from local residents and we will be consulting residents about this before any decision is taken."


But in a statement, the airport said the council was delaying key decisions.

A spokesman said: “It is massively disappointing that the council is delaying decisions on key issues relating to our essential preparations for the 2012 London Olympics.

"The vast majority of overseas participants, spectators and other visitors will be travelling to and from the Olympic Games by air.

"The successful staging of the Olympic Games will depend fully and entirely upon sound, business-like, forward planning, fresh investment in resources and infrastructure and the availability of newly recruited and trained staff.

"At least 75 new jobs are in prospect at the airport for the tasks that lie ahead.

"The local community is expected to reap benefits and the airport will raise additional revenues for accrual to the council that will generally assist Bromley and London to maximise the commercial benefits of this once-in-a-lifetime event.

"Government forecasts estimate that 25 to 30 per cent more flights per day will be requiring airport facilities over the two-month period between mid-July and mid-September 2012.

"These are normally holiday periods in UK & Europe.

"An example of late decisions being made on key issues won high profile at the recent Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

"To stay well away from similar embarrassments, we need to have key decisions in place now in order to get on with the job of making Biggin Hill Airport the top-rated gateway to London and the Olympic Games.

"We shall not be accepting any scheduled services at the airport within our overall commitment to serve the London Games.”