Edinburgh airport declares its (fiercely opposed) TUTUR flight path trial a “technical success”

Edinburgh Airport, owned by GIP, ran the deeply unpopular flight TUTUR path trial in mid 2015.  The aim was to get aircraft off the tarmac every minute at peak times – such as early morning – rather than every two minutes as is currently the case. And that would help increase the value of the airport, for GIP.  Due to intense opposition and thousands of complaints about noise, it was ended two months early. Scottish journalist, Gina Davidson, has written about the problems. Edinburgh airport says it wants to be a good neighbour, but dismissed the mass of complaints about TUTUR as being from a ‘relatively small number of people, living in pockets of West Lothian.’ Unsurprising the airport announced this week that the trial had been a “technical success”.For overflown communities, such as Broxburn, Uphall, Linlithgow, and Blackness, it was not a success. And many of them are sure that even now, planes have not reverted to the old routes – but are still over-flying their homes. Edinburgh airport knows it will have a battle on its hands should it decide to attempt to make the TUTUR route permanent. There is now also a petition about noise in Cramond and Barnton, which are also facing more take-offs over them, in some wind conditions. Opposition is getting organised.


Edinburgh airport:  It’s David v Goliath in airport stoush [meaning fight/brawl]

By GINA DAVIDSON  (Freelance writer and columnist, on the Edinburgh Evening News)
11 February 2016

The long-running debate about whether a third runway should be built at Heathrow, or a second one at Gatwick airport, can feel like an irrelevance; an argument happening hundreds of miles away which, unless you’re an environmental campaigner constantly concerned about air pollution and climate change, is easy to dismiss as entirely London-centric.

Yet it is one which we should all be watching with intense interest, especially in the light of Edinburgh Airport’s unsurprising announcement this week that it’s controversial trial flight path over West Lothian last year was a “technical success”.

To recap: Edinburgh airport introduced a trial route called TUTUR to discover if it could get aircraft off the tarmac every minute at peak times – such as early morning – rather than every two minutes as is currently the case. This would apparently reduce emissions, make the airport more efficient and keep airlines and passengers – many of whom are flying to London – happy.

But the route flew over homes in Broxburn, Uphall, Linlithgow, Blackness and other small villages which had never been bothered by plane noise before. And it was done with little or no consultation with people who would be affected, many of whom found their lives totally disrupted.

As a result a campaign group was born, fighting to make sure that this new route would not become permanent. The airport eventually called a halt to the trial early after being bombarded by thousands of complaints and having the issue raised in the Scottish Parliament.

Since then, those affected believe that planes supposed to be using old routes are not sticking to them and are still over-flying their homes. This is denied by the airport. They have also become much more aware of flights through the night, particularly around 4.30am. Complaints are still being made.

A slumbering David has been woken to battle the Goliath of Edinburgh Airport and its owners, Global Infrastructure Partners, who also, did I mention, own Gatwick.

The airport says it wants to be a good neighbour yet has dismissed the mass of complaints as being from a “relatively small number of people, living in pockets of West Lothian” – at a stroke belittling the impact the trial had on those people, some of whom were affected badly enough to complain hundreds of times.

It knows it will have a battle on its hands should it decide to attempt to make this route permanent – in the same way Heathrow and Gatwick airports face a battle from the communities which surround them.

Furthermore, a new front has also opened up in another direction as a petition about noise is doing the rounds of Cramond and Barnton. And that was before the local community council was informed of a plan to increase the frequency of take-offs over their area when the prevailing winds are right.

So 2016 is going to be an important year for Edinburgh Airport, which suddenly finds itself no longer just the good guy making the city an important travel hub and contributing to the general economic health of the place.

And what happens down south will have a major bearing. A third runway at Heathrow seems more likely to be approved than the Gatwick plan, but the Commons environmental audit 
committee has been definite in what the airport needs to do before that can happen: that it can prove it can meet legal air pollution requirements; that aviation can control carbon emissions, as aviation is on track to exceed its climate change targets; that there’s a ban on night flights; that a community engagement board is established; that communities receive predictable respite from planes. Without all of that, the Environmental Audit Committee is clear, an increase in air and noise pollution will leave the government and airport open to legal cases around damage to public health.

The airport’s report says that nine tonnes of fuel and 30 tonnes of CO2 were saved during the trial but its noise monitoring report has not been released – it just states that “results from independently produced noise reports concluded that “flights generate significant noise over and above background noise” . . . we recognise that we must . . . measure and mitigate the impacts our operations have.”

That sounds like an admission the campaigners’ complaints were valid. They probably still are, as local MSP Fiona Hyslop says that more jets using the old GOSAM route are also having a noise impact.

Watch what happens with the Heathrow decision. If the airport is forced to meet the Commons committee’s demands, Edinburgh will be expected to as well.

Without a doubt the Davids of West Lothian (and perhaps also Cramond and Barnton) are getting their slingshots ready.




See earlier:

Edinburgh TUTUR flight path trial ended 2 months early – but residents say changes persist

In June Edinburgh airport started a trial of a new, concentrated take off flight path (TUTUR), designed to enable the airport to deal with more planes per hour, and therefore make more money and raise the airport’s value. Due to the utter noise misery the trial produced and the huge volume of complaints, it was ended two months early – on 28th October, not 24th December. However, as has been the pattern at other airports, people overflown say the route has not returned to how it was before the trial. Campaigner Helena Paul from local group SEAT (Stop Edinburgh Airport Trial) said: “Despite assurances that the TUTUR trial has ended, the noise disturbance has not stopped. In fact, many residents are reporting a serious increase in the levels of noise from flights compared to before the trial started. … It’s perfectly clear to many thousands of us that there’s been a significant change in the pattern of use of the skies above our heads, to the severe detriment of many communities living beneath.” Helena has asked for data gathered during the trail period to be released, so that questions can be answered. They want to show definitively and precisely what happened pre-trial, and what is happening now.

Click here to view full story…

Edinburgh trial (no prior consultation) of new narrow route to be ended 2 months early, due to opposition

Edinburgh Airport is to halt its controversial trial of a new flight path two months early (28th October). The trial of the concentrated route resulted in unacceptable levels of noise for those below the new route. The airport’s Chief executive Gordon Dewar admitted the airport had been overwhelmed with complaints about the trial route over areas which were not previously over flown. He said a letter from Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, asking if the trial could be shortened had also influenced the decision. The announcement was made at a packed public meeting in Broxburn. Like all other new routes that have been introduced through the CAA, there was no consultation. Mr Dewar said on the consultation: “…I do apologise. We have learned a lesson on that one.” The CAA has been taken aback by the extent of opposition to every new concentrated flight path it has introduced, and appears unable to work out how to implement the European SESAR changes to airspace on an articulate and determined population, against their will. Someone at the meeting commented that Gordon Dewar’s presentation was met with silence from the audience. But a short video by Sally Pavey, an experienced noise campaigner from Gatwick, received enthusiastic applause. Campaigners from affected airports are linking up to oppose unsuitable airspace changes.

Click here to view full story…

and more news stories about Edinburgh Airport at Edinburgh Airport News