Councils split on air policy

WHEN airspace was increased to allow hundreds more planes to fly over Suffolk three years ago, it fell to the councils to put forward the concerns of the public - and safeguard the peace and tranquillity of the county.

WHEN airspace was increased to allow hundreds more planes to fly over Suffolk three years ago, it fell to the councils to put forward the concerns of the public - and safeguard the peace and tranquillity of the county.

It meant the proposals were never properly explained to those who are being directly affected - those living under the flightpaths - and they were not given the chance to have their say.

Only in Babergh was the matter brought into the public arena ­at a council meeting - in Mid Suffolk, and at County Hall, the issue was dealt with by council officers who responded.

Suffolk Coastal - an area now hugely affected by more aircraft noise - did not respond at all, and Ipswich Borough Council cannot recall if it definitely responded but felt it was not an issue which affected residents of the town.

One council highlighted the specific problems facing officers - their lack of expertise.

“While welcoming the opportunity to comment we cannot make meaningful objective comments due to the lack of accessible, understandable information on the proposal. Greater clarity should have been provided on the noise and environmental impact of the proposals on identified communities,” said the council

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The main concern of Babergh and the county council was to ensure changes to the airspace would protect the Dedham Vale beauty spot, where noise and air pollution from planes had been a matter of great concern for years.

County officials though were concerned at the introduction of the new route over the Suffolk Coast and heaths and the holding area over north Ipswich.

And they expressed concern over the lowering of flights over Ipswich from 13,500 feet to 8,500 feet and possible noise - though the borough council was not bothered.

Suffolk Coastal “concluded that there would be no significant additional noise or air pollution in this district as a result of the proposal” and there were no justifiable objections that the council could have made that would have carried any real weight with NATS.

Mid Suffolk felt with planes flying over the district at around 15,000 feet that there would not be a large impact in terms of noise and pollution.

The county council did not object to the increase in the number of flights, but it has opposed the expansion of the airport at the public inquiry.

This is because it wants the expansion to be considered as part of a national air strategy and because it fears the effect of further flights on atmospheric pollution.

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