Flightpath protesters march in London
CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to re-route aircraft over their peaceful villages
have marched through London today to protest against the proposals.
The rousing demonstration took place outside the headquarters of air traffic
bosses to mark the last day of the consultation about the controversial plan,
which would see a plane holding stack moved over rural communities.
Their strength of feeling was displayed through numerous banners and placards.
As the protestors marched over Waterloo Bridge this afternoon to the offices
of NATS, formerly the National Air Traffic Service they called for a U-turn on
the stacking proposals, saying it would sound the death knell for their idyllic
from Suffolk to add their voices to the demonstration.
David Ruffley Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket said: "I think
the Suffolk countryside is under attack.
"First we have the slashing of rural Post Offices and now we have the peace,
calm and tranquillity of parts of Suffolk being destroyed by noise pollution if
this goes ahead."
Joe Viva, a furious resident from Thorpe Morieux, walked over the bridge displayed
a banner saying "Stack over the sea not over me".
He said: "We have absolutely no noise whatsoever at the moment and this is going
to be so intrusive. It is really going to change our lives."
Another banner proclaimed that the group, who were joined by others from Cambridgeshire
and Hertfordshire, were "screaming for silence".
NATS are proposing to move the current Stansted holding stack from Sudbury to
villages over the west of Stowmarket.
They argue that over the rural communities the circling planes will affect less
But the protestors argue that the lack of background noise in their quiet villages
compared to urban areas will lead to a shattering of their idyllic rural communities.
The protest has so far passed off peacefully and the Suffolk group also demonstrated
outside the Civil Aviation Authority, which is expected to give a decision on
the proposals in the autumn.
UK Airport Flight Path Consultation Closes
from Airport International 19.6.2008
The UK’s airport flightpath consultation ends today – bringing to an end months
of debate over how the UK’s airspace will be managed in the future.
The consultation was brought about by the proposed reorganisation of flight paths
into the UK’s major airports in the south and east.
National Air Traffic Services (Nats), the company responsible for managing UK
airspace, wants to introduce four new holding stacks to serve London’s airports
– Heathrow, London City, Stansted and Luton in an attempt to reduce the noise
impact of aircraft on populated urban regions.
Organisations and people likely to be affected by the flight path changes were
invited to have their say on the proposals during the consultation, which began
The end of the consultation was marked by a rally in London on Thursday of environmental
protesters, MPs and residents’ action groups, who then took a letter of protest
to Nats’ headquarters on the South Bank.
Airport Flightpath Noise
The consultation invited comments from residents and businesses across London,
Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and the Chilterns.
Campaigners argue that the re-routed flight paths would mean increased aircraft
noise levels for up to 500,000 in these areas.
John Stewart from the AirportWatch group, said: “The only reason Nats is proposing
these changes is to create more airspace to cater for the government’s aggressive
plans to expand aviation”.
Nats say the changes to the flightpaths are necessary in order to improve airspace
efficiency in light of the anticipated increase in the number of flights over
coming decades, as well as to reduce air traffic congestion.
The plans involve re-directing arriving and departing flights into London airports
over rural areas in order to reduce airport flightpath noise to populated areas
in the south and east. Nats say the re-drawn flightpaths will mean 20% fewer people
will be affected by noise.
Aircraft Noise Levels
However, this has angered residents in rural areas who believe they will suffer
from higher aircraft noise levels as a result.
Tom Jackson, who lives in Essex, told the BBC: “If the new proposals go ahead
there will be more noise, more disturbance for us. The argument is that by changing
flight paths and stacking areas, they will move congestion from those areas that
are already busy. But I don’t think it’s fair to inflict the air traffic on people
in rural areas. One of the reasons we chose to live where we live is for the rural
aspect and the peace and quiet”.
Dick Histed, a Suffolk resident, added: “The new plans will see a regular stream
of aircraft. Nobody should think that we’re saying these aircraft are deafening.
They’re not. But compared to the quiet backdrop of the countryside they can be
heard. It’s a grating, tearing sound and it’s the repetition that’s the problem.
It makes us frustrated”.
Nats will forward the responses to its consultation to the Civil Aviation Authority
for evaluation. A decision on the flight paths is expected later this year – if
approved, the new flightpaths could be in place by spring 2009.
Source – Airport International’s Aviation Correspondent
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