Planes over Chilterns would be a ‘safety risk’

3.5.2008   (UK Airport News)

Proposed changes to flight paths that would result in planes flying at low altitude
over The Chilterns pose a significant safety risk, the county council’s cabinet
member for strategic planning has warned. Air traffic control company National
Air Traffic Services (NATS) is running a major consultation on changes to airspace
from planes departing and arriving from several airports in the south east.

One of the main proposals affecting the area is that planes bound for the south
west from Luton Airport will be re-routed further south, relieving Wendover and Princes Risborough of
overflights, but pushing planes over the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural
Beauty at a significantly lower altitude than present.
Planes heading east from Luton would also loop around the area surrounding the
airport, causing them to overfly villages such as Ivinghoe, Pitstone and Edlesborough.

In his report to the council last week, Councillor Martin Tett, who is in charge
of formulating a response to the proposals, said that in Buckinghamshire there
would be ‘winners and losers’ as a result of the changes, ‘making the submission
of a response from this authority a sensitive issue.’

He said the county will make a ‘robust response’ to the proposals, but added:
‘As much as residents we might not like planes going over our houses, we do enjoy
going on holiday.
So with respect people are slightly hypocritical over this. We do the same with
road traffic.’

He said the council would press NATS to look again at the need for planes to
fly at low altitudes of 3500 to 5000ft across The Chilterns, adding:
‘I have really serious concerns and the main determinant in that is the safety
factor when you take into account the height of The Chilterns and the margin of
safety is significantly reduced.
Added to that you have an area of natural beauty and a lung for people coming
particularly from London at weekends.’

A spokeswoman for NATS said: ‘Safety is our primary responsibility and we wouldn’t
make any proposals which we considered in anyway to be unsafe.