Flight battle is not over yet, warns MP

CAMPAIGNERS fighting proposals for new flightpaths and holding stacks over Suffolk were today warned the battle is not over yet - and not to celebrate too early.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting proposals for new flightpaths and holding stacks over Suffolk were today warned the battle is not over yet - and not to celebrate too early.

Even though air management company NATS has said it is designing alternative routes for some of the thousands of jet planes which fly across the county each week, the changes may not be what people expect.

The company only hopes to give alternative routes and these will only be “in some instances” - allowing people a choice of the original proposal or a different route - and the same for holding stacks.

The upshot of this may be that while those who have been outraged at the prospect of flightpaths or holding stacks above their homes will be happier, others will find themselves under the planes and suffering noise.

NATS cannot divert the planes away from Suffolk because the county is on the direct path from Stansted, Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick, London City and other airports to many destinations.

The company said its options are “extremely limited” in what is the most complex and congested airspace in the world.

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Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said he was pleased there would be fresh consultation on new options later this year but was eagerly waiting to see what the changes would be.

“I welcome this announcement of a new consultation but caution campaigners against premature celebration since we don't yet know what new proposals NATS are putting forward,” he said.

“However, this announcement is a victory for people power. We have cleared the first hurdle but we must now gear up for the campaign to continue once NATS announce their new proposals.”

One of the holding stacks proposed was above dozens of villages between Stowmarket and Hadleigh, where residents feared their lives would be made a misery by a plane every two minutes at peak times.

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

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