Fears over motorway of the skies

GROWING numbers of passenger jets have created a “motorway of the skies” over Suffolk - without the public being asked whether they want it or not.That's the view of campaign group ClearSkies which says public consultation by National Area Traffic Services (NATS) has been minimal and too technical for people to understand.

GROWING numbers of passenger jets have created a “motorway of the skies” over Suffolk - without the public being asked whether they want it or not.

That's the view of campaign group ClearSkies which says public consultation by National Area Traffic Services (NATS) has been minimal and too technical for people to understand.

ClearSkies campaigns on behalf of residents under flightpaths and fears changes to airspace being planned to cope with increasing numbers of aircraft routes could damage the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people.

The Evening Star is opposing further expansion of Stansted airport - both its current application to add ten million extra passengers a year on 23,000 more flights and its plans for a second runway, which could add 300,000 planes to the skies.


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NATS has no say over whether airports expand but has to make sure there are enough flightpaths to accommodate all the aircraft arriving and taking off.

John Stewart, chairman of ClearSkies, said: “This redesign of airspace could damage the quality of life of people across the south east and it is unacceptable for NATS to consult the public in such a minimal way.

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“If someone was building a motorway near your home you would expect more than just a three-month consultation. NATS is effectively creating motorways in the skies.”

Mr Stewart said while airports do their best to minimise noise in the take-off and landing zone close to airports, the authorities do nothing about noise further away as planes fly in.

“If you live in Suffolk, you will suffer real noise under these flightpaths but the authorities' view is that you have to grin and bear it - the powers that be say you are just unlucky,” he said.

“If you live near an airport you might expect some noise, but when you live many miles away you don't. You live peacefully and then suddenly the noise comes to you.

“If a motorway was being built close to your home there would be months of discussions and then a public inquiry. They put more and more noisy planes over our heads with virtually no consultation at all.

“Most of the consultation is too technical and NATS tend to bring forward a proposal which is fully worked up rather than discussing with communities first to see how they are suffering and if further disturbance can be avoided.”

NATS said it is currently still designing its airspace proposals. Consultation is not expected until 2008.

What do you think of the possibility of tens of thousands more planes flying over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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