Legal review into flight path changes

PROTESTERS today won a vital battle against the growing numbers of planes in Suffolk's skies – after High Court judges agreed to look into their calls for air space changes to be abandoned.

PROTESTERS today won a vital battle against the growing numbers of planes in Suffolk's skies - after High Court judges agreed to look into their calls for air space changes to be abandoned.

The changes, brought in earlier this year, mean there are 30 per cent more commercial jets now flying over the county and they are permitted to fly 5,000ft lower than before.

Experts say it means around 1,200 planes a day over the area - many of them over the Felixstowe peninsula and north Ipswich - though none of the authorities can say exactly how many there are because no-one counts them.

The Evening Star's Air Fare campaign aims to highlight the situation, which was created without proper public consultation, and which is set to get much worse in the years ahead

Barrister Thomas Hill has won permission to launch a High Court action over aircraft noise which is ruining the peace and quiet of his rural home in Constable country since the changes.

Mr Justice Harrison ruled at London's High Court that Mr Hill had an "arguable case" which raised "highly important" public interest matters affecting thousands of local people. The court heard that one local resident had taken to wearing ear plugs in bed because of the noise.

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A specialist in planning and environmental law, Mr Hill lives with his family at Bentley Manor, Bentley, near Ipswich, and is being backed in his legal challenge against the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) by the Dedham Vale Society, which has 800 members.

John Steel, QC, appearing for Mr Hill, argued there had been a flawed consultation process, and the CAA's decision to approve alteration of the controlled air space over southern East Anglia, which took effect in March, should be quashed.

Mr Hill said in a witness statement his home was unaffected by aircraft noise before the dramatic changes last March, which had led to a serious loss of enjoyment in living in the area.

He said during consultations with local people, the CAA failed to disclose the changes would mean an increase in overflying of the area.

As a result his right to respect for his family, home and private life under the European Convention on Human Rights was being infringed.

Michael Crane, QC, appearing for the CAA, argued that local residents wanted to "have their cake and eat it".

Even though they were challenging the new flight patterns, they did not want to go back to the situation which had prevailed before they were introduced.

Blocking the changes could prove "chaotic", he warned.

What do you think of the number of planes in our skies, especially at night? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.dft.gov.uk

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