Farnham Town Council has objected to the proposed expansion of Farnborough Airport, citing concerns over increased emissions and the adverse impact on residents. The objection, published in full below, emphasises the contradiction with climate emergency initiatives, disproportionate effects on the local community, and the need for a progressive reduction in flight numbers to mitigate environmental and noise consequences.

Dear Consultation Team,

Farnham Town Council wishes to object to the proposed expansion of Farnborough Airport to increase the allowed number of flights to 70,000 by 2040. The basis of our objection is not just based on the increased emissions but also on the effect of such an increase on all residents of Farnham.

Farnham Town Council passed a Climate Emergency Motion at its Full Council meeting held on 19th September 2019. Since passing this motion every effort is being made to reduce the level of carbon emissions by the Town Council. All these efforts will have been made in vain if the proposed increase in flights is allowed. It is not for Farnham Town Council to make judgements on the necessity for such an increase in flights except to state that most flights made from Farnborough Airport are by small private jets which have significant carbon emissions and it could be argued that for most journeys alternative means of transport exist or indeed are not really necessary to be made at all.

The proposed expansion of Farnborough Airport is contrary to the objectives of the UK Civil Aviation Authority which states on its website “Government and the aviation industry have worked to try and reduce the impact of noise by promoting the use of quieter aircraft, restricting the times airports can operate and the routes that can be used and, in some cases, capping the total number of flights that can depart from and arrive into an airport”.

Farnborough Airport’s proposals envisage extending the hours of operation with a significant increase in the number of weekend flights.

The justification for the proposed increase in flights to and from Farnborough Airport is based on the economic benefits that such an expansion will create. The consultation document states that the proposed expansion will support 4,100 jobs in the local area either directly or indirectly, but this figure is small compared to the number of residents living in the area who will be affected by a significant increase in noise disturbance. Farnham alone has a population of 42,000 and the effect on residents is even greater when the total of all residents living under the proposed flightpaths are taken into account. It is worth noting that the consultation document makes no mention of the number of local residents living under the proposed flightpaths. For every job supported by the proposed expansion at least ten times as many local residents will be affected by these proposals.

The proposed significant expansion of weekend flights will cause particular noise disturbance to residents at times used mainly for relaxation. Even greater noise disturbance will be caused if any additional flights are made by helicopters. Already there has been an “stacking” of commercial aircraft over Farnham awaiting slots at Heathrow or perhaps Gatwick and the airspace interactions between Farnborough/Heathrow/Gatwick need to be addressed in terms of the wider impacts on the local community. The change of flight paths have already caused material harm to Farnham residents and no further harm should be allowed. Clarification needs to be given over any proposed stacking for Farnborough and any future stacking for Heathrow, Gatwick and other airports with a flightpath over Farnham.

The effect that such an expansion would have on local residents is acknowledged by the proposed enhancement of the sound insulation grant scheme, but it would obviously be preferable if there was no increase in flight numbers (and indeed a progressive reduction in existing allowed numbers) to avoid the very need for a sound insulation grant scheme.

The consultation also accepts that the proposed expansion of Farnborough Airport would have detrimental environmental consequences otherwise why propose enhancing the existing Community Environmental Fund? Again, it would be preferable if there was no increase in flight numbers with a progressive reduction in existing flight numbers to avoid the need for a Community Environmental Fund.

One other factor that has not been taken into account in the evaluation of the proposals is that any increase in the number of flights allowed to use Farnborough Airport will inevitably increase the level of traffic using local roads which are already heavily used and congested.

The consequences of climate change are being experienced across the entire world and the economic costs and environmental consequences that are being incurred, as well as loss of human and animal life are far greater than any economic benefit that the proposed expansion of flight numbers at Farnborough Airport could ever generate. Farnham Town Council does not, therefore, support the proposed increase in flight numbers using Farnborough.

Yours sincerely,

Iain Lynch

Town Clerk

Writing on behalf of Farnham Town Council