Battersea Heliport Consultative Group by ajizai

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									                                                             PAPER No.    06-760
                         WANDSWORTH BOROUGH COUNCIL

       CORPORATE RESOURCES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
                       20TH SEPTEMBER 2006

                           EXECUTIVE – 2ND OCTOBER 2006

Report by Chief Executive and Director of Administration on arrangements for setting up a
Battersea Heliport Consultative Group.



                                          SUMMARY

        The Council has taken the initiative in promoting the establishment of a
        new consultative body which would provide a public forum for reporting
        on and dealing with issues arising from the activities at the Battersea
        Heliport in Lombard Road, SW11 (St Mary’s Park).

        The Council’s proposal was prompted by growing concern among
        residents in Battersea and Putney about increased noise from helicopter
        activity in their areas.

        The Council’s initial approach met with a positive response from the
        heliport owner and operator Weston Aviation Ltd. The Department for
        Transport has since announced that the heliport will become a designated
        airport under Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982. In due course,
        this will make the setting up of a consultative body by its owners a
        statutory requirement.

        Both the Council and the heliport owners believe strongly that it is in the
        public interest to proceed promptly with the setting up of a properly
        accountable local body. An exploratory meeting has been held to agree
        broad terms of reference and possible composition for such a body. This
        report sets out the detail of the matters discussed and seeks approval to the
        formal setting up of the new group.


     RECOMMENDATIONS

1.   The Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee are recommended to
     support the recommendations in paragraph 3.

2.   If the Overview and Scrutiny Committee approve any views, comments or
     recommendations on the report, these will be reported to the Executive for their


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     consideration.

3.   The executive are recommended to:-

      (a) approve the creation of the Battersea Heliport consultative Group based upon the
          outline approach and proposals set out in this report; and

      (b) authorise the Chief Executive and Director of Administration to conclude the
          detailed arrangements in line with this approach under the Standing Order No.
          83(A) procedure, following discussion with the relevant parties.

     INTRODUCTION

4.   The Battersea Heliport is located in Lombard Road SW11 on the Battersea riverside. It
     obtained planning permission from central Government in 1958 and subsequently
     operated under a series of permissions from the former GLC until that body was
     abolished in 1986.

5.   Today, the heliport operates under a permanent permission and associated Section 106
     town planning agreement granted by the Council in 1997. The key conditions – namely
     the operating hours (7.00am-11.00pm) and the annual movements limit (12,000) – have
     remained broadly unchanged since they were set by the GLC in 1977. It is still the
     only heliport in central London.

6.   The heliport is situated on a heliroute along the Thames and exercises air traffic control
     functions in the area. In recent years, almost all the riverside frontage in this area - from
     Albert Bridge to Wandsworth Bridge – has been redeveloped to provide hundreds of
     new residential units. There has been similarly intensive residential development on the
     northern bank.

7.   Currently, the heliport is not a designated airport. The Section 106 agreement currently
     limits the types and numbers of helicopters that can use the heliport. Other than in
     emergency situations the heliport is not permitted to operate between the hours of
     11:00pm and 7.00am. The Section 106 agreement also limits the maximum numbers of
     landings and take-offs that may occur on any one day.

8.   Whilst the limits on numbers and types of helicopter permitted to use the heliport do
     provide some control on noise, these controls are not easily transferable into meaningful
     noise values that can be shown on a contour map as normally applies to other airports.
     Currently, there is no requirement to monitor actual noise levels either at the heliport or
     nearby residential properties.

9.   There is also an absence of any robust system for the recording and monitoring of
     complaints. While the Civil Aviation Authority, the British Helicopter Advisory Board
     and the heliport itself will all respond to complaints, the fragmented nature of these
     arrangements – and the perceived lack of any subsequent action – has made it difficult
     to gauge the true scale of the heliport’s impact on the local environment.




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      GLA INVESTIGATION INTO HELICOPTER NOISE

10.   In June this year, the Council launched a new helicopter noise reporting service on its
      website. In the first few weeks this generated scores of messages from residents. Most
      of these were living in the new residential districts along the Battersea riverside –
      although there were also complaints upstream in Putney and from people living across
      the river.

11.   The Council drew on information from these sources in compiling its evidence to the
      Greater London Authority (GLA) investigation of helicopter noise in July 2006. In
      particular, it called on the heliport to provide improved information on helicopter
      activities, carry out regular noise monitoring and establish a local consultative
      committee on which local people could be represented. These concerns were broadly
      shared by all the members of the public attending the hearing.

      PROPOSALS FOR A LOCAL CONSULTATIVE BODY

12.   Immediately following the GLA hearing the Chef Executive and Director of
      Administration wrote to the operator of the heliport, Weston Aviation Ltd and invited
      them to consider proposals for a local consultative body. The Company responded
      swiftly and positively and at the same time informed the Council that the Department
      for Transport was proposing to designate the heliport under Section 35 of the Civil
      Aviation Act 1982.

13.   The significance of designation is that the heliport would be required to set up a local
      consultative body of the type envisaged by the Council. Enactment will be achieved in
      due course by an amendment to Statutory Instrument 1996 No 1392: The Aerodrome
      (Designation) (Facilities for Consultation) Order 1996.

14.   Following this constructive exchange, an exploratory meeting was held at the Town
      Hall at the end of August involving senior representatives from Weston Aviation and
      the Council. At this meeting, both sides agreed that such a body should be established
      with the minimum of delay. The Council offered to take on the administrative task of
      establishing the new group and facilitating its meetings.

      PROPOSED TERMS OF REFERENCE

15.   The Council and Weston Aviation have agreed to follow as a model the constitution and
      terms of reference which apply to Shoreham Airport, already designated under the 1982
      Act, and which includes a heliport. This would create a 12-member group with four
      places each for heliport users (including Weston Aviation), local authority
      representatives and local residents’ groups. The group would meet in public at the
      Town Hall, two to three times a year. It would be serviced by a committee secretary
      provided by the Council.

16.   Weston Aviation would approach heliport users to join the group. This would include a
      representative from the Police. In recognition of the wider impact of the heliport’s
      activities, the Council would invite the councils of the neighbouring boroughs of
      Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea to each put forward a

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      representative for the group. The other two places would be reserved for Wandsworth
      councillors.

17.   It was also agreed that the four places for the nominees of residents’ groups should be
      shared on a similar basis between the three boroughs. The Council undertook to seek
      nominations from residents groups in the Battersea riverside area between Albert
      Bridge, and Wandsworth Bridge where noise problems from helicopter activity are the
      most acute. The Council would ask the two neighbouring Borough Councils to issue a
      similar invitation to groups on their side of the river, and to nominate the two
      representatives.

18.   An invitation would be issued to the Mayor of London’s office for the attendance of
      their aviation officer at the new body’s meetings as an observer. The Council’s aviation
      specialist would also attend as technical officer, as would Weston Aviation’s own
      technical consultant.

19.   The normal terms of reference for an airport consultative body envisage the
      appointment of an independent chairman. Both the Council and Weston Aviation agreed
      that this was desirable. The Council undertook to identify a person of suitable
      experience who might be acceptable to both the heliport and the local authority.

20.   It is envisaged that a small budget will necessary for the administrative tasks associated
      with servicing the new body including suitable reimbursement for the independent
      chairman. Weston Aviation have agreed in principle to meet the reasonable costs
      incurred.

      PROPOSED WORKLOAD FOR THE GROUP

21.   The precise workload for the group will be for its members to decide at their first formal
      meeting. From the exploratory meeting it is expected that members will receive regular
      reports on helicopter movements and noise complaints.

22.   To ensure that accurate and comprehensive information is compiled, the Council will
      insist on the setting up of a single point of contact for all complaints. The uncertainty
      about where and how to make a complaint has been a recurring theme in residents
      concerns.

23.   In line with its robust stance on aircraft noise, the Council will also want to see progress
      made towards the establishment of a proper system of helicopter noise monitoring in the
      Battersea area.

      THE NEXT STEPS

24.   All sides are working towards an inaugural meeting of the new group in December
      2006. In the meantime the committee secretary appointed to the group will prepare the
      formal terms of reference and begin the process of recruiting members and securing
      consensus on the appointment of chairman. It is not envisaged there will be any
      significant net costs to the Council as the administration and secretarial costs involved
      will be net to Weston Aviation.


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      DIRECTOR OF FINANCE’S COMMENT

25.   The heliport operator, Western Aviation, has agreed in principle to meet the ongoing
      administrative costs of the consultative group. Any additional costs will be met from
      existing budgets.

      CONCLUSION

26.   The new proposed Battersea Heliport Consultative Group represents a significant step
      forward in the way the heliport responds to concerns about helicopter noise. For the first
      time local people will have access to reliable information on helicopter activities while
      the heliport itself will be obliged to operate in a more accountable way. By taking the
      initiative in establishing the new body the Council will aim to ensure that it operates for
      the benefit of local residents whose quality of life can be impaired by the intrusive
      effects of noise.

                                     ---------------------------


                                                                      G K JONES
                                                                      Chief Executive and
                                                                      Director of Administration


 The Town Hall
 Wandsworth
 SW18 2PU

 12th September 2006


 Background Papers

 The following background papers were used in the preparation of this report.

 1.   Evidence to GLA helicopter noise investigation (July 2006)
 2.   Shoreham Airport – terms of reference
 3.   Guidelines for airport consultative committees (DfT December 2003)
 4.   The Aerodrome (Designation) (Facilities for Consultation) Order 1996.
 5.   Exchange of correspondence between Wandsworth Council and Weston Aviation (July 2006)
 6.   Minutes of exploratory meeting held 30th August 2006

 All reports to overview and scrutiny committees regulatory and other committees, the
 Executive and the full Council can be viewed on the Council’s website
 (www.wandsworth.gov.uk/committ) unless the report was published before May 2001, in
 which case the Committee Secretary (Mr I. Lister – 020 8871 6005; e-mail:
 ilister@wandsworth.gov.uk) can supply a copy, if required.




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