London City Airport - ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification


Located in the Royal Docks, in the borough of Newham, East London, London City Airport (LCY) is the UK’s 15th busiest airport, serving over 40 destinations in the UK, Europe and the USA with a focus on business travel. Though the airport, which has one runway, is small compared with other airports serving London, such as Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton, it is well placed to cater to the capital’s financial district and contributes over £750 million to the UK economy each year. In 2015 LCY served 4.3 million passengers, an 18 per cent increase compared with the previous year and a record for the airport. It aims to serve 6.5 million passengers by 2025, dependant on their City Airport Development Programme (CADP) application receiving planning approval.

LCY recognises a duty to do all it can to be a “good neighbour” to its closest communities and has enshrined within its environmental policy a responsibility to continuously review its environmental performance, in order to manage and minimise the environmental impacts resulting from its activities. LCY also aspires to be an industry leader in sustainability, taking a proactive stance that not only complies with but exceeds, all relevant environmental legislation. To ensure this is achieved, LCY chose to have its environmental management system (EMS) certified to the internationally-recognised ISO 14001 standard, as James Shearman, Environment Manager at LCY, explains:

“ISO 14001 provides a really good framework and approach to environmental management to ensure environmental compliance not only now but also in the future. By having something that we can be certified against shows from a professional standpoint that LCY has a proactive approach to environmental management. 

 “A certified EMS allows us to allocate and collate all those threads together, rein them all in and see things on a wider scale. This way, nothing gets missed. We can keep a focus on key priority areas and ensure there are no gaps in the training of employees. By being able to display continual improvements it goes beyond a mere box-ticking exercise, which is one of the main attractions.

 “It’s also a good bedrock for allowing us to have meaningful conversations with stakeholders and regulators like the Environment Agency, the Royal Docks Management Authority Limited (RoDMA), Greater London Council, Transport for London, Thames Water and the local authority. LCY worked with multi-sector certification body Exova BM TRADA to achieve ISO 14001 Environmental Management systems certification." 


London City Airport commenced the ISO 14001 certification process in March 2015, electing to conduct a gap analysis before the certification audit to identify any gaps that might otherwise have prevented or delayed certification. 

The auditing process was split into two stages, with the stage one audit, undertaken in July 2015, comprising a review of the management system documentation, evaluation of the location and site-specific conditions, review of the status and understanding of the requirements of the standard, and evaluation of whether internal audits and management reviews had been planned and performed.

The stage two audit, which took place in October 2015, confirmed that the management system fully conformed with the requirements of the standard. The audit included an evaluation of the level of implementation and effectiveness of the management system according to the requirements of the standard, a sample audit of the processes and activities defined in the scope, and a written report on the audit findings and any non-conformances that needed to be addressed.

Shearman said: “The gap analysis was really helpful as it allowed us to understand before the stage one audit where the gaps were in the paperwork side of our environmental management system.
“Seven months is a short period time of time to deliver an EMS in any business, let alone an airport with 500 employees and so many environmental considerations to take into account. 

“It was enabled through the fact that we have a lot of good initiatives already,  such as emissions testing, ongoing noise pollution and quality monitoring, and we just needed to pull that all together in one system and have it organised in a way that was understood top to bottom.”

London City Airport received certification through Exova BM TRADA. Certification is valid for three years and is maintained through a programme of annual surveillance audits and a recertification audit in the third year before the certification expires. 


Shearman says that he found Exova BM TRADA to be the “most approachable” organisation when it came to choosing a certification partner. A key factor in the appointment process was the experience of the aviation sector that the auditors brought to the table.

Shearman said: “I was impressed by the auditors, who seemed both pragmatic and professional, and who had at their disposal a good working knowledge of how airports operate.

“This was a major benefit to us as it meant we could cut to the nub on issues rather than going over the minutiae of things which didn’t have a direct relation to our needs.”


Certification to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management standard brings a range of operational benefits.

Shearman said: “As with other airports, we have very different environmental considerations to take into account and the ISO 14001 standard is a great way of tying them all together. It makes our objectives clear and easy to communicate and at the same time being compliant with a verified international standard is great in the eyes of stakeholders and provides reassurance to the local community.

“It’s a way of being able to classify and organise our legislative obligations - not only in terms of national compliance but also local compliance, with the planning conditions for the airport. We need to be able to clearly indicate what we need to comply with, how to do it, who is responsible, who is accountable and to check if we have gone beyond the expectation – if we are pushing the boundaries.

 “The airport has a relatively small senior management team and we had found that though they may have had an idea about what environmental management involves, there was nothing formally set out for them.

“Likewise, on the ground with general management, there was not as much low-level auditing as one might expect, so the standard really allowed us to take that forward and have a tried-and-tested method not just to audit but also to verbally communicate that through the teams.

“ISO 14001 has highlighted where resources were lacking and has allowed us to put in direct smart objectives and targets from a legal policy point of view, understanding where we fit in and bringing in a standardised approach. 

“It allows us to clearly think and focus on what are the different elements associated with that management system, record them, prioritise, disseminate information and document everything. 

“Now we have all the leadership team – made up of senior directors – meeting on a bi-monthly basis as part of our environmental steering group.

 “In conjunction with this, the 14001 journey has allowed us to set parameters and benchmarks against the training needs of our staff, reaching out to other departments within the airport such as ramp control, security and terminal officers, and giving staff the general awareness and understanding of environmental procedures ranging from noise monitoring to how to deal with a spillage.”

In recent years LCY has taken “significant strides” in reducing its carbon emissions, with one of its biggest successes of 2015 being the achievement of Level Two ACI Carbon Accreditation Status – making the airport only the fifth UK airport to achieve this.

The airport is now aiming to achieve Level Three Carbon Accreditation status and reduce overall carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020, two objectives that Shearman says ISO14001 certification is playing a part in realising.

He said: “Environmental management certification allows us to see what legislation is on the horizon within Greater London, UK and Europe, providing better mitigation to prevent those issues occurring. 

 “This year, for example, we put in fixed electrical ground power, moving away from mobile ground power air units. This is green energy and limits the direct burning of diesel on the airfield so operatives are not exposed.

“It is definitely helping in our bid to achieve level 3 ACI carbon accreditation status. “By having 14001 in place, automatically you have to speak with various stakeholders, engage with them and understand exactly what they are doing regards environmental management. For instance, how they are managing their vehicle fleet.

“It is also helping the airport achieve its 2020 carbon objective. It has fixed that target, but on a wider scale, associating it to the living management system we use day in, day out. 

“It makes sure the target never fades from view, giving a platform to do it in a way that is easily transferable and understandable to other levels in the organisation that most probably wouldn’t have given it a thought without the system in place.”

 “There have been good cost savings,” confirmed Shearman. “Electricity usage has dropped by nine per cent and this is an ongoing trend, so we’ve seen savings directly from utility usage.

“Our waste costs have also been reduced because we’ve been able to attain a high level of recycling. From recycling around 25 per cent of waste in 2013, we now recycle approximately 65 per cent.

“Other energy efficiency savings will come in through the replacement of lighting on the terminal concourse and runway with LEDs, as well as the behavioural change among staff in doing smaller things such as switching off their computer before they leave the office.

He added: “When you have accreditation in place, operational chiefs don’t want to lose it. Half the battle with environmental management is winning hearts and minds and having something concrete to be certified against adds more leverage, pushing the EMS up the agenda against other business objectives.


Shearman says his key advice for organisations looking to pursue ISO 14001 certification is “Prep, prep and more prep” - ensuring everything has been considered before the audits take place.

He said: “You want to prepare before you embark on that journey. It’s important that you do all that groundwork. You need to be going out there and lifting rocks, understanding what’s underneath it all by asking questions.

“You need to be like the auditor but within your own company so that when you do decide to go forward with ISO 14001, the risk of not achieving certification is, therefore, dramatically reduced.


Recognised world-wide, ISO 14001 is the international standard for the environmental management of business. ISO 14001 addresses the way companies manage their effect on the environment and the measures they take to improve environmental performance. It does not specify levels of environmental performance. Instead, the purpose of this standard is to provide a framework for a whole-systems approach to the organisations policy, plan and actions which can be used to meet internal and external objectives for environmental management.
ISO 14001 is a universal standard suitable for large and small businesses in any sector. Because it is not prescriptive in its environmental performance requirements it can be used by companies at all stages of environmental management. The essential elements an organisation must take into account when seeking certification to ISO 14001 are that it must commit to continual improvement and to compliance with applicable regulations and legislation.

For further info on ISO 14001: call +44 (0)1494 569 745 or email