London City Airport Consultative Committee

Airport Safeguarding

Controlling development in the vicinity of the Airport to ensure the safe operation of aircraft




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What is Airport Safeguarding?
The Safeguarding Process
Public Safety Zones
Bird Hazards
Talking to the Airport
Government Guidance for Downloading

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What is Airport Safeguarding?Tall Buildings on the Approach Runway 10

SAFEGUARDING is the process by which development in the vicinity of airports (and specified en-route technical sites operated by NATS or the MoD) is controlled in order to ensure the continuity of safe operations.  It is primarily concerned with:

  • The maintenance of airspace sufficiently free of obstacles to ensure the safety of airborne air craft, known as physical safeguarding.
  • The control of developments, including wind farms, which may interfere with aircraft/airport navigational aids such as the Instrument Landing System (ILS), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) and radio navigational beacons, known as technical safeguarding. (See Airport Overview Page for details of the navigation aids in use at the Airport).
  • The control of developments likely to attract birds, or introduce distractions that may compromise the safety of aircraft.

Obstacles include not just buildings but also other structures such as transmitter towers and tall cranes used on construction sites which can present real problems.

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Tall CraneThe Safeguarding Process

NEW arrangements for airport safeguarding came into force on 10th February 2003.  The details are to be found in ODPM Circular 1/2003 which includes the text of the Town And Country Planning (Safeguarded Aerodromes, Technical Sites And Military Explosives Storage Areas) Direction 2002. 

In summary the safeguarding process is centred around the safeguarding map issued to local planning authorties by the Civil Aviation Authority.  This shows colour-coded areas which together represent the safeguarded area around the airport. At London City Airport the safeguarded area incorporates the whole or part of 27 different planning authorities. The areas most likely to be affected by the development of tall buildings are the City of London and the London Boroughs of Southwark and Tower Hamlets. The Airport itself is situated in the London Borough of Newham where the regeneration of the Royal Docks has generated a lot of safeguarding work. 

The safeguarding map can be seen at the offices of the local planning authority or at the Airport see below.

Bird in FlightWhere in a proposed development the height of a building or structure would exceed the level indicated on the safeguarding map for that area the local planning authority is required to consult the Airport. Consultation is also required in any case within a 13 kilometre zone marked on the map where the proposed development is for other aviation uses or is likely to attract birds and to wind farm developments within a 30 km radius.  

Consultation applies not only to applications for full or outline planning permission but also to applications for the amendment of an outline planning permission, for the renewal of a planning permission or for the removal or modification of conditions imposed on a previous planning permission.

When consulted the Airport considers whether the proposed development might compromise the safe operation of the aerodrome or interfere with the navigational aids or Instrument Flight Procedures (IFP) and offers its comments accordingly.  If then the local planning authority proposes to grant planning permission contrary to an objection made by the Airport, or not to attach conditions which they have recommended, it is required to notify the Civil Aviation Authority.  There is then a period of 28 days during which the CAA considers the disputed application and, if it thinks it necessary, to ask the SeApproach to Runway 28cretary of State to issue a direction under s.77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 calling in the application for determination by the Secretary of State.

Important Note: The Circular makes it clear that it is for the local planning authority to trigger the safeguarding process. It is very important that in doing so they should  ensure the Airport is sent appropriate information so that it can properly assess the application. If this is not done the Airport is likely to have to send a holding letter which may delay the completion of the planning process.

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Public Safety Zones

THESE are areas of land at the ends of the runway within which development is restricted in order to control the number of people on the ground at risk of death or injury in the event of an aircraft accident on take-off or landing.

Here is a map showing the latest PSZs at London City Airport (.pdf 4.79mb)

If the increase in the number of flights approved by Newham Council on 9th July 2009 leads to an increase in the area covered by the PSZ, and a loss in value of sites there still to be developed, the owners will be compensated by the Airport through a Value Compensation Scheme - here are the details

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Bird Hazards

In May 2007 the Airport responded to a consultation exercise about a proposed Joint Waste Development Plan for East London. The response focused on the bird hazard to aircraft using London City Airport. The response included a report prepared by specialist consultants (.pdf 220kb) which is reproduced here because it may be helpful to those engaged in the development process.

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Talking to the Airport

It makes obvious sense for developers to take account of Airport safeguarding issues well before they finalise their schemes and submit an application for planning permission.  The Airport is very happy to offer its help and advice and if necessary to draw in the assistance of the National Air Traffic Services who look after air traffic control and the navigational aids at the Airport. 

The appropriate contact at the Airport's Director of Technical Operations:

  • Gary Hodgetts telephone: 0207 646 0006, fax: 0207 473 9565 , Mobile: 07768 420494, E-mail: Click Here
  • Emma Worby telephone: 0207 646 2523, fax: 0207 473 9565 , Mobile: 0784 186 5334, E-mail: Click Here

He is based at London City Airport, City Aviation House, Royal Docks, London, E16 2PB.

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Government Guidance for Downloading

Government Guidance on Aerodrome Safeguarding (Circular OPPM 1/2010) -280k

Government Guidance on PSZs (Circular DfT 1/2010)- 201 k  
CAA Publication: CAP 738 - Safeguarding of Aerodromes - 277kb
CAA Publication: Safeguarded and Obstacle Limitation Surfaces London City Airport (2004) - 408 kb

Get Acrobat ReaderThese documents are in Acrobat .pdf format and to view them you will need an Acrobat Reader. This can be obtained free of charge by clicking the "Get Acrobat Reader" icon opposite.

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An independent Consultative Committee established by London City Airport pursuant to Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982
John Adshead     Secretary: Stuart Innes

Page last modified: 29th January 2014