Flightpaths still to be reviewed

SUFFOLK: A review to bring forward fresh proposals for changes to flightpaths and holding stacks over the county is still pressing ahead – despite the change of government.

While the coalition’s policy on airport growth has led to the withdrawal of the proposals for a second runway at Stansted and the dumping of similar expansion at Gatwick and Heathrow, it had not been expected to intervene in day-to-day management of airspace.

Around 1,200 passenger jets fly over Suffolk every day now – their engine noise drowning out birdsong and wrecking the county’s tranquillity and peaceful character.

Air traffic management company NATS has always said that its airspace review was needed to tackle existing delays and bottlenecks in the skies – not to deal with expansion proposals which had not been approved, as they would need further reviews if ever given the go-ahead.

It will be autumn at the earliest before the public is shown any new flightpath proposals and has a chance to comment.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for NATS said the review was not affected by the change of government.

Previous plans included creating new holding stacks near Newmarket and over 37 villages between Hadleigh and Stowmarket for jets arriving at Stansted, and generated thousands of objections.

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Villagers feared the stacks above them at peak times would ruin the peace and tranquillity of the countryside.

NATS says the reduction in the number of flights because of the recession and the need to take into account the views put forward in the last consultation meant the work on changes was not so urgent.

Experts are taking into account concerns raised by its first set of proposals issued in 2008, but say “doing nothing is not a long-term option if we are to further enhance safety in the area and we anticipate bringing forward some smaller changes from the proposals while we continue work on the overall design”.

n Tell us how the sound of passenger jets is spoiling your peace and quiet – write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk