Answers demanded over growth in flights

Parts of Suffolk are becoming besieged by jet planes - and campaigners want to know what action is to be taken.

SUFFOLK: Parts of Suffolk are becoming besieged by jet planes - and campaigners want to know what action is to be taken.

Air management company NATS still hasn't completed its revised proposals for changes to flightpaths and airport stack holding areas, and is not giving any indications at this stage of what the plans will include.

It has promised though to take into account the thousands of objections received over its first airspace scheme.

Residents of some communities are demanding less planes - and say the number of aircraft in the skies is already too many.

At times - especially evenings when ambient noise levels are less - there is hardly a moment when jet airliners cannot be heard.

The planes fly in and out on the same pre-programmed set courses each day as if travelling on a laser beam at different levels and in different directions.

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On the Felixstowe peninsula, it is plane after plane, with more than 600 going over every day, each taking around 80 seconds of noise to pass over, with the next arriving merging into the one leaving.

It is destroying the peace and tranquillity of the area, with the sound of silence, an essential part of Suffolk's rural nature for centuries, now gone forever.

Campaigners believe there is action NATS can take to deal with the situation, removing large numbers of jets above some communities by simply altering flightpaths slightly.

The Evening Star's Air Fair campaign also believes it is time to set limits on flight numbers - while levels may seem acceptable now, if air traffic doubles in the next 20 years as forecast it will be intolerable.

Should NATS cut the number of planes in Suffolk's skies? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

FASTFACTS: Action NATS and government could take

Flightpaths over Felixstowe could be altered to take planes a mile to the north of the town so that jets overfly countryside rather than thousands of homes.

If routes could not be moved permanently, a “share the load” system could be set up to move the flightpaths north on alternate weeks or weekends to give people quiet time.

Holding stacks could be placed over the sea rather than above open countryside.

Government could abandon - as the Conservatives will do - plans for a second runway at Stansted to limit the future number of flights which will overfly Suffolk.

Ministers could also order investigations and action over aircraft noise and pollution affecting those who live below flightpaths but many miles from the airports.

STANSTED: Airport bosses have launched a new initiative to cut aircraft noise, emissions and improve air quality.

Officials at Stansted have agreed to adopt new practices encouraging aircraft to taxi to and from the runway with less than all engines operating, leading to significant reductions in ground noise, CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Dr Andy Jefferson, Stansted Airport's head of environment, said the airport was trialling the new technique, working closely with easyJet.

“We have already enjoyed significant success with a similar collaborative approach when we developed and subsequently updated the arrivals code of practice, which has led to the introduction of continuous descent approaches at Stansted,” he said.

“I believe this next step will help build on that excellent work, maintain our forward momentum and is further evidence of our commitment to explore new and innovative ways to address the industry's environmental impacts.”

The industry was facing challenges to satisfy future passenger demand for air travel while at the same time reducing aircraft noise impacts and meeting aviation's commitment to reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft by 50pc by 2050.

George Hutton, easyJet's pilot manager at Stansted, said airlines adopting the new procedures could see reductions in ground emissions of up to 30pc and a taxi fuel saving of up to 40pc.

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