Anger over NATS south coast flight path plans

(24.11.2007   UK Airport News)

MPs have criticised a lack of consultation on flight paths to south coast in
a House of Commons debate. The new path will be over North Hampshire villages,
including East Woodhay, Crux Easton, Woolton Hill, and Ashmansworth, and parts
of West Berkshire, including Inkpen, Coombe, Kintbury and West Woodhay.

North West Hampshire MP, Sir George Young initiated Monday evening’s debate,
over plans by NATS (National Air Traffic Services), to introduce a new flight
path into Bournemouth and Southampton Airport. He asked if a suitable case for change been made, and was the consultation process
‘fit for purpose.’

Sir George said responsibility for consulting parish councils on the issue had
been ‘subcontracted by NATS to local MPs,’ adding: ‘although local authorities
also had that obligation, none of my parish councils were notified by them, and
NATS made no attempt to see if the cascade they asked for had taken place.’

Newbury MP, Richard Benyon, raised problems experienced by parish councils in
accessing the consultation document online. He said: ‘They could not read the
last appendix, which details the estimated altitude of flights over their villages.’

A NATS spokeswoman said councils were sent the consultation document by registered
post with a request to confirm receipt, while MPs were informed about the consultation
in writing and also sent the full document.

The proposals cover an area from Newbury, south to the New Forest, but only for
use in the early morning and evening. The NATS spokeswoman said: ‘The airspace
is used by the military during the day. The proposal is not designed around Bournemouth
or Southampton airports; the main aim is to relieve a bottleneck over Newbury
which causes particular delay to east / west, Heathrow / Gatwick traffic at the
peak periods in early evening and early morning.’

A decision is due in January and, if approved, the change is likely to be implemented
in March, or April.

The debate can be seen in Hansard of 19th November.   Column   1072   Bournemouth
and Southampton airports