Dedham Vale – Campaigners celebrate flightpath victory


(20.12.2005     East Anglian Daily Times)


CAMPAIGNERS fighting to protect the peace and tranquillity of Constable Country
by changing controversial aircraft flight patterns celebrated after winning their
battle against aviation bosses. A legal action brought by the residents of Dedham
Vale against the CA over the nuisance caused by over-flying aircraft was settled
in the High Court.

The CAA and National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which manages airspace use,
agreed that in any future reorganisation of flight paths they will have regard
to the potential environmental impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
(AONB) in north Essex and Suffolk, and the rivers Stour and Orwell.

The CAA also agreed the frequency of planes over-flying the Dedham Vale and surrounding
area was &lquot;significantly greater&rquot; than had previously been anticipated.

Last night members of the Dedham Vale Society, which brought the case, said they
were delighted with the outcome but were unable to comment further because the
court was still deciding on costs.
Christopher Garnett, Colchester Borough Councillor for Dedham and Langham said:
&lquot;Hopefully they will make a considerable improvement in the summer months for
those who want to use their gardens and for people out walking.   Night-time can
be a problem, coming out of church on Sunday evening, you can just see a mass
of moving stars accompanied by the droan of the aircraft.&rquot;

However Lesley Ford-Platt, mayor of Sudbury, said she hoped the decision would
not lead to more flights being made over densely populated areas such as Sudbury
and Ipswich.

&lquot;I have to admit that if the decision means there will be more flights over areas
where there is a greater population then I don’t agree with it,&rquot; she said. &lquot;Where
is it better for there to be a crash – over an area where there is very few people
or over larger towns like Sudbury and Ipswich?   The residents in this area are
fed up with the noise caused by aircrafts and if the High Court decision means
this will increase then we will be unhappy. It is the case of a minority acting
against the majority.&rquot;

During a three-day hearing in London last week, attended by members of the Dedham
Vale Society, residents accused the CAA of ruining the peace and tranquillity
of the countryside painted so often by John Constable by allowing &lquot;dramatic and
unexpected&rquot; changes to aircraft flight patterns.

In a legal challenge backed by the 800-strong Dedham Vale Society, Mr Hill said
his family and thousands of others became victims of noise and visual intrusion
after changes were made to the use of air space over East Anglia by aircraft using
Stansted airport.

At the hearing yesterday, John Steel QC, for the residents, told the judge the
parties agreed to settle on the basis that CAA and NATS, in any reorganisation
of airspace which they were currently considering, would have regard to environmental
effects on the two AONBs in terms of aircraft noise and visual intrusions.

Last night a spokesman for the CAA said: &lquot;Although the case is not yet fully
concluded, the CAA and NATS have reached a settlement with the claimants that
ensures that due consideration will be given to the environmental impacts arising
from the Clacton Airspace Change when any future proposals for airspace design
and use over this part of south-east England are presented to the CAA.

&lquot;This consideration will be in line with the CAA’s duties as set out in the Transport
Act 2000 and the Air Navigation Directions issued by the DfT.&rquot;

Richard Wright, spokesman for National Air Traffic Services Ltd (NATS), said:
&lquot;Although NATS is an interested party the High Court action was against the CAA
not NATS.

&lquot;We are in the very, very early stages of looking at the next generation of airspace
developments, which would include East Anglia. We are certainly looking at the
aspects over East Anglia but it is early days yet”.