Nottingham East Midlands Airport already has a planning application for a runway extension of 190m, increasing the current runway length of 2890 metres to 3080 metres. This was originally submitted to North West Leicestershire District Council under planning application ref. no. 00/0867 in August 2000. The application was left “dormant” but now the Nottingham East Midlands Airport has notified the District Council that it wishes to pursue this application (which will be determined by the planning committee of the District Council this sometime this year). Coincidental to this is the significant road infrastructure proposed by the Highways Agency's MI widening scheme and the passage of the Civil Aviation Bill currently before parliament.
Nottingham East Midlands Airport saw passenger traffic virtually double in 2002-2003, with two 'no-frills' carriers developing significant bases at the airport. It is now handling around 4.5 million passengers per annum. Forecasts suggest that by 2030 it could attract between 12 to 14 million passengers per annum.
Nottingham East Midlands Airport is also the third largest freight airport in the UK, and is the leading UK airport for freight carried in all-cargo aircraft. It is the main centre of operations in the UK for two of the four major global express freight operators, and an important regional base for another. Forecasts indicate that East Midlands Airport could be handling as much as 2.5 million tonnes of freight a year, possibly more, by 2030.
Nottingham East Midlands Airport is situated away from the main centres of population, and a relatively small number of people live in the noise contour. However, the projected growth of the airport would increase the size of the contour to include over 10,000 people. Moreover, the nature of the air-cargo operations means that many flights are at night, when background noise levels are lower. There is likely to be a large increase in the number of flights at night.
The Department for Trade and Industry's Aviation consultation document (the Future of Air Transport ) forecasted that there could be over 60,000 cargo flights a year into Nottingham East Midlands Airport by 2030, and a substantial proportion of these are likely to be in the late evening or the night. The consultation document also foresaw a need for a second runway at the airport in around 2020, regardless of decisions about runways at other airports. The Department for Trade and Industry projects that there will be a shortage of runway capacity during late evening hours, when the last inbound passenger flights overlap with the peak period of arrivals by cargo aircraft. No doubt this problem will be fixed by a second runway and this will be included in the Nottingham East Midlands Airport Airport Master Plan due for publication this month.
Increased air freight will do for the planet and future generations - Still we will all be able to have loads more of life's essentials, like strawberries flown in from Israel in January and garden furniture flown in all year around from chopped down rain forests in Brazil - so what's the fuss all about?