County wants halt to flight changes

CHANGES to flightpaths over Suffolk should be put on hold until decisions are made over the proposed expansion of Stansted.That's the view of county council experts, who are worried permitting the Essex airport's current runway to be used to its maximum capacity and building a second runway will mean significant increases in the number of jet planes over Suffolk.

CHANGES to flightpaths over Suffolk should be put on hold until decisions are made over the proposed expansion of Stansted according to county bosses.

Suffolk County Council experts are worried permitting the Essex airport's current runway to be used to its maximum capacity and building a second runway will mean significant increases in the number of jet planes over Suffolk.

County councillors are being recommended to object to the airspace changes, which will affect many people across the county, ruin its tranquillity and cause “unacceptable consequences” for urban areas.

Officers question why changes are needed now, before Stansted expands, and if there are alternatives which might be considered.

They also want to know why flights cannot be stacked over the sea rather than villages and peaceful countryside, and voice concern over whether aircraft will be flying at lower levels in future.

Air traffic management company NATS says the proposed changes are designed to deal with current congestion in the skies, and say the new routes should mean a one-third reduction in the number of people who will be flown over by passenger planes.

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The plans include creating two holding stacks for Stansted - one near Newmarket, and the other between Stowmarket and Hadleigh, removing the current one near Sudbury - and changes to routes for planes arriving at Stansted and Luton.

A report to the county council cabinet on May 27 says there will be winners and losers - with some people currently affected by aircraft noise obtaining relief and others experiencing an impact for the first time.

Some rural areas would see aircraft as low as 4,000ft, while on the Felixstowe peninsula and over Ipswich planes will come as low as 7,000ft, flying over the area in a north-westerly rather than westerly direction in future.

However, consultation documents only detail those routes seeing changes - and not the hundreds of other flights, such as those from Heathrow, which will not be affected but add to the overall impact.

Lucy Robinson, director for environment and transport, said: “The lack of information on existing arrangements which are to remain unchanged means that the overall impact of future overflying is harder to judge.

“The refusal of NATS to entertain submissions on the overall growth of air traffic and the possible development of new runways is regrettable, since these could significantly increase the impact of the proposals in the longer term.”

Should planes be directed to fly over towns or countryside? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk