More time for air route objections

AIR chiefs have extended the period for people to comment on proposals to change flightpaths over Suffolk by four weeks.Air traffic management company NATS was due to end its consultation on the changes on May 22, but has now agreed to give the public until June 19 to give their views.

AIR chiefs have extended the period for people to comment on proposals to change flightpaths over Suffolk by four weeks.

Air traffic management company NATS was due to end its consultation on the changes on May 22, but has now agreed to give the public until June 19 to give their views.

Jonathan Astill, NATS' head of airspace management, said: “We have listened to those people who have said there was not enough time for them to consider the details of these proposals, and therefore decided to extend the consultation period.

“It is important that everyone who has a view on the proposals has a chance to make those views known and this four-week extension will enable them to do so.


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“We are consulting very widely on these proposals and have already visited a number of councils, and briefed MPs, to discuss local implications and to answer their questions on the proposals.

“We have more meetings scheduled. We are receiving a wide range of feedback which will be taken into account in finalising the proposal we put forward for consideration by the Civil Aviation Authority.”

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Around 1,200 passenger planes currently fly over Suffolk every day and in future this could double with proposals to use the current runway at Stansted to its maximum capacity and build a second runway, plus plans for a third runway at Heathrow.

The proposed airspace changes though are designed to deal with current congestion in the skies.

They include creating two holding stacks for Stansted - one near Newmarket, and the other between Stowmarket and Hadleigh, removing the current one near Sudbury - and changes to routes for planes arriving at Stansted and Luton.

There will be winners and losers. Felixstowe, which at the moment is overflown by around 600 jets a day will see the flightpaths over the town changed slightly and should no longer have Luton in-bound planes flying over, but in the long term will have more jets as the airports expand.

Campaigners though are deeply concerned about the plans for the new holding stacks - claiming it will mean a plane every two minutes at peak times, wrecking the county's peaceful countryside.

NATS says it needs to make the changes to cater for the growth in air traffic over the past few years, and introduce continuous descent approaches (CDA) where aircraft stay higher for longer, reducing fuel burn and noise, for Stansted's easterly runway.

Should planes be directed to fly over towns or 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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