Fears over quality of life, inquiry told

MORE planes roaring in and out of Stansted will devastate quality of life for people living in parts of rural Suffolk.That was what the inquiry into the airport's expansion plans was told as it arrived in the county for the first time.

MORE planes roaring in and out of Stansted will devastate quality of life for people living in parts of rural Suffolk.

That was what the inquiry into the airport's expansion plans was told as it arrived in the county for the first time.

Campaigners who claim the scheme will have dire consequences for Suffolk began putting their arguments as the inquiry took evidence at Sudbury Town Hall yesterday.

They named the town, and neighbouring Great Cornard, as “hotspots” for aircraft noise as the focus of the inquiry shifted to the disruption caused by the noise of low-flying planes over the south Suffolk countryside and the potential threats expansion would bring to the rural area.

Speakers claimed plane noise from planes travelling in and out of Stansted shattered rural tranquillity in the area and similar problems were hitting places as far away as Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds.

Tim Smith, from Sudbury, made an impassioned plea to inspectors to block the expansion for the sake of his family's health.

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He said he moved to the area for its tranquillity in 1999 when there was no problem with aircraft noise but in 2004, without warning or consultation, flights were directed over his house.

He said: “Planes can be heard every five minutes from early in the morning until late at night. And I dread to think of the amount of pollution my family has been breathing in.

“We have looked into moving but I don't feel we should be forced from our home.”

Mr Smith's view was supported by Robert Erith, who spoke on behalf of the Dedham Vale Society. He said that the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) had its tranquillity “destroyed at a stroke” by “intrusive and unacceptable noise” when jets were directed overhead in 1999.

He said: “The Dedham Vale AONB consists of world famous and much-loved countryside and small villages. It is small and of unique peaceful rural character and vulnerable to external pressures. Aircraft noise, which blots out all other sound, is chief of these threats.”

Dick Histed, of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group (SSATAG), said the wider threat to the countryside by airport expansion should not be underestimated.

“Protecting the countryside from further intrusion is not a luxury,” he said. “It is about preserving and promoting a feature that is genuinely valued by residents and visitors alike.

“At present levels air traffic noise is causing widespread dissatisfaction all over south Suffolk and east Essex. Suffolk was once a byword for tranquil countryside associated with Constable or Benjamin Britten. A visit to Snape now is far from tranquil.”

The inquiry, which was triggered by Uttlesford District Council's rejection of BAA's proposed expansion from 25million to 35million passenger movements a year in November last year, will conclude on October 19 at the airport's Endeavour House.

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