Councils need to take a stand

IT'S time for our community leaders to stand up and be counted if Suffolk is to remain a place of peace and tranquillity.

IT'S time for our community leaders to stand up and be counted if Suffolk is to remain a place of peace and tranquillity.

So far they have failed us.

When it comes to the horrendous noise of aircraft in the skies above our beautiful countryside, lovely market towns, buoyant seaside resorts and major urban areas most of our councils failed to act - and all failed miserably to look ahead to the future.

They are:

Guilty of not speaking up strongly enough against increased air traffic over Suffolk;

Guilty of not thinking through the wider implications for the growth of air travel and how it will affect communities;

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Guilty of not keeping a constant vigil on a major problem adding more pressure to our area and eroding quality of life.

Now with a massive expansion proposed for Stansted, the Evening Star has launched a No More Stansted campaign and it is time for our council leaders, councillors and officers to join us - and to stand tall and do their job to safeguard the precious rural county of Suffolk.

If Stansted's current application to increase its passenger numbers by ten million succeeds, it will mean 23,000 extra flights a year - many of which will come over Suffolk, adding more noise and more pollution.

If the airport gets permission to build a second runway, it will mean 300,000 more flights a year. If just half of them head for European destinations, it will mean 400-plus more flights over Suffolk every day. It is likely to be many more.

At the moment planes are heading into Stansted, London City, Luton and East Midlands across Suffolk all day.

The corridors enable planes to follow each other, fly in two different directions at once - even with another on a completely different flightpath above or below crossing them.

It is not unusual for three or even four planes at once to be spotted.

Imagine that number doubled or tripled, possibly flying as low as 1,000ft in some places - which is what will happen if Stansted is allowed to expand. It is no good wearing rose-tinted glasses and saying everything will be all right.

Felixstowe, where four different airspace areas meet, has suffered an enormous upsurge in the number of flights over the town and has become a well-known marker for pilots en route to and from the UK.

Ironically, Suffolk Coastal council - responsible for Felixstowe - felt the last increase in air traffic three years ago would add “no significant additional noise or air pollution in this district” and didn't even bother to comment on the changes.

How wrong they were! Noise from aircraft at certain times of the day is now affecting the quality of life in many parts of the district. Early morning, late afternoon and late evenings on the Felixstowe peninsula, for example, the planes are a constant dull drone or roar - the sound of each aircraft passing overhead merging into the next arriving at times.

This is on top of a constant stream of traffic on the A14 - and a million more lorries a year to come when the port expands - on the peninsula, plus freight trains with the rail line set to be dualled.

Even Suffolk County Council voiced concern over the impact on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty - which Suffolk Coastal council didn't.

Ipswich Borough Council also failed to act - and when questioned by the Evening Star did not even know whether it had responded to the consultation, and felt the planes would have no impact over Ipswich even though planes could fly as low as 8,500ft.

Later this year there will be two chances for councils to stand up and protect Suffolk and its people - and it is important that they make sure they take them.

Airspace is set to be changed again to provide more flightpaths for thousands of planes should Stansted be allowed to expand, and Stansted will be submitting its application for a second runway. Objections need to be voiced to both.

It is time the councils each appointed a dedicated officer from their environmental health departments to deal with aviation issues and to battle against the Civil Aviation Authority and National Air Traffic Services.

They should be up to speed with what is happening, what is planned for the future and the impact it will have, measuring noise and pollution, and aware of the concern that is growing among residents.

They should be talking to the CAA and NATS now about their plans and about proposals for expansion of Stansted and Luton.

We may be miles away from these airports, but their business is having an impact on our lives here - and they don't care.

Our councils need to fight for us and make sure the views of Suffolk people are heard, and act now before it is too late.

What do you think of the number of planes in our skies - and the noise and air pollution they cause? Let us have your views - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail