Airspace changes could cut planes

CAMPAIGNERS believe major changes to airspace over Suffolk could cut the number of noisy jet planes on certain flightpaths - at least for the time being.

CAMPAIGNERS believe major changes to airspace over Suffolk could cut the number of noisy jet planes on certain flightpaths - at least for the time being.

Consultation on the changes is not expected until early next year, and any alterations would not come into force until 2009.

The government is forecasting air traffic will double in the next 15 years - with many worried this will mean twice as many planes going over Suffolk.

More than 600 planes a day currently fly over the Felixstowe area alone, without the hundreds more over other areas of the county, which have until now been tranquil rural havens.

Alan Line, chairman of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group, believes the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are waiting for the outcome of the current Stansted public inquiry before announcing details of the airspace changes.

Mr Line said: “If Stansted's bid to raise its passenger numbers is refused, it will have a major impact on the airspace proposals.

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“However, Stansted is so close to its maximum passenger capacity now that it will probably keep coming back with fresh proposals. Even with it close to 25 million passengers a year there will be a need for more flight routes over Suffolk.

“But I don't think the changes to airspace will be all bad in the short-term and could actually improve things for some people.

“I think more routes will be opened up over north Suffolk and Norfolk - which will mean the flights from Scandinavia can come that way instead of much further south as they do now.”

It could mean many of the flights over other parts of Suffolk will be re-routed.

However, while that will be good in the short-term, once air traffic starts to increase dramatically it will mean the number of flights increases again and could be even higher than present levels.

Stansted has plans for a second runway in the pipeline, and other airports whose flights go over Suffolk also have plans to expand.

The Evening Star is opposing further expansion of Stansted - both its current application to add ten million extra passengers a year on 75,000 more flights and its second runway, which could add 300,000 planes to the skies - because of the intolerable impact this would have on Suffolk.

Is the noise from planes getting on your nerves? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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