PLANNED new flightpaths into Scotland‘s largest airport will see planes flying over some of the country’s wealthiest suburbs in a bid to cut down on carbon emissions and handle increased passenger numbers.
The changes to the routes around Glasgow Airport will see flights take off or land over areas such as Bearsden, Bishopbriggs and East Renfrewshire to cut down on the time it takes planes to reach international flightpaths.
The proposals are aimed at “modernising” Glasgow’s airspace to handle increasing passenger numbers, larger aircraft and to make flying less harmful to the environment.
But community groups in affected areas such as Bearsden, Dennistoun and Uplawmoor are worried about the impact on their communities nad are urging the airport to rethink the plans.
The plans are currently out to public consultation which closes on April 13.
A key element of the plan involves removing ground-based navigation aids, which were devised in the 1960’s, in favour of satellite systems. Ground navigation aids used by Glasgow Airport, which guide the aircraft to and from the airfield, will be decommissioned in 2019.
Supporters say the move to satellite systems will help reduce the time planes queue in the air and on the ground and reduce overall CO2 and fuel emissions.
But opponents claim the change from beacon to GPS will concentrate air traffic in a way that has not been seen around Glasgow before with all aircraft flying on exactly the same route, causing increased noise in the affected areas.
Stuart Wilson, who represents Uplawmoor Community Council, said the airport had not explained why the departure route needed to go directly over the village when it was surrounded by empty countryside.
The village lies in the East Renfrewshire countryside about nine miles south of the airport and Mr Wilson said his main concerns were with the increase in noise over the “very tranquil peaceful surroundings”.
He said there would be departure flights flying over the village every few minutes and the noise would be equivalent to “being next to a busy 50mph road”.
He said: “The proposals as they currently stand estimate on most days up to 70% of traffic leaving Glasgow airport will now come over a very condensed area over a very small rural population,” he said.
He criticised the airport for not consulting the community until “very late in the day”.
Mr Wilson said he hoped the Civil Aviation Authority, which has the final say on the proposals, would force the airport into a more “transparent, open and honest” consultation.
Residents in Bearsden, which is about six miles the north of the airport, have also protested over the increase flights taking off over parts of their area.
A similar Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) review of proposed changes to Edinburgh Airport’s flight paths has been halted on a techinicality amid thousands of complaints from affected communities.
The CAA decision – which is very unusual – is thought to relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission.
Edinburgh Airport had said the changes were necessary to cope with increasing numbers of passengers.
But local campaigners raised concerns about increased noise and the impact on communities.
Edinburgh Airport insisted its flight path proposals “work” and were “the best balance achievable” but last years it said it had modified its plans following the latest public consultation.
A Glasgow Airport spokesman said: “The flight paths have not changed materially in decades.
“As is the case with wider UK airspace infrastructure, they are no longer fit for purpose.
“There is a need for Glasgow to modernise the departure paths, however it is important to stress that what we have put forward are only proposals.
“We can only make changes once we have considered the views of all those who respond directly to the consultation.
“Those views will then be presented to our regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, who will ultimately make the decision on whether or not we can proceed, however, we will of course take on board all of the views that were expressed as we consider our next steps.”