New calls for aircraft answers
PRESSURE was growing today on aviation chiefs to explain why hundreds of commercial aircraft are now criss-crossing Suffolk's skies every day.The main concern is that there has been no public consultation on the issue – which has increased noise and air pollution.
PRESSURE was growing today on aviation chiefs to explain why hundreds of commercial aircraft are now criss-crossing Suffolk's skies every day.
The main concern is that there has been no public consultation on the issue – which has increased noise and air pollution.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) admitted that it was not just a big concern in Suffolk, but was a source of increasing complaints from communities all over the country with air travel continuing to grow fast.
Tonight The Evening Star is asking the CAA on behalf of its readers 20 questions about the issue and demanding to know if the public will be consulted on further proposals to increase the amount of air traffic.
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We want to know why the public has never been consulted before about whether they should be made to live under busy flight paths, and if action has been taken to investigate noise and air pollution caused by the planes.
Scientists have further worries that the fuel fumes and vapour trails of the aircraft could be having a dramatic and dangerous effect on climate change.
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We also want to know how many flights are going across Suffolk's skies, and in particular along the Felixstowe peninsula flight corridor.
The resort and its hinterland is a prime example of the problem.
A decade ago there were virtually no commercial planes used the area because of the closeness of Bentwaters and Woodbridge air bases.
Today dozens fly over every hour, day and night. Some residents have expressed concern about noise and how low the jetliners are flying – some say at night you can clearly see cabin and fuselage lights.
The situation for everyone is set to get worse with the government intent on increasing air traffic three-fold in the next 20 years.
Felixstowe is not the only Suffolk community affected by the problem.
With Stansted set to be expanded again, there are fears that flight paths will increase and south and east Suffolk will be used as a stacking area.
Families in the Sudbury area are already calling for action and have enlisted the help of South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo.
North Ipswich residents are worried about the prospect of hundreds of planes stacking over them.
A spokeswoman for the CAA said a number of communities had expressed concern about the growing amount of air traffic.
She said the authority would be prepared to answer the Evening Star's questions or to direct the newspaper to appropriate bodies if any of the issues were not those dealt with by the CAA.
n What do you think of the number of planes in our skies – and the noise and air pollution they cause? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk
1 What is the role of the Civil Aviation Authority?
2 How many commercial planes are crossing Suffolk daily on flights to or from UK airports and foreign destinations?
3 In particular, how many are using the flight corridor over Felixstowe?
4 What are the proportions of day-time and night-time flights? How many are cargo planes and how many passenger flights?
5 Why has there been no public consultation over the increasing number of flights, especially over the Felixstowe peninsula?
6 Who decides how many flights can take place over an area and what issues are examined concerning the wellbeing of the population living under a flight path?
7 Why was a corridor chosen over the Felixstowe peninsula – does the Bawdsey beacon have a role to play?
8 Will there be public consultation if there is an increase in flights in future?
9 Which UK airports are the planes flying to and from and which countries are they travelling to and from?
10 At what height are these aircraft flying?
11 If there is an increase in the number of planes – as is expected in the government's White Paper – will they be allowed to fly lower, and, if so, at what height?
12 Could the current flights not be made to fly higher to cut noise?
13 Are there restrictions concerning flight heights over populated areas?
14 How many more flights will there be in the future – what are the proposals for the expansion of use of these flight paths, especially bearing in mind the proposed extra runway at Stansted Airport?
15 What is the maximum number of planes per day which could use the flight corridor over Felixstowe?
16 Commercial flights have only been using the air space over Felixstowe regularly since the closure of Bentwaters and Woodbridge military air bases. Have you got figures for the past ten years to show air traffic crossing the area, both for Suffolk and for the Felixstowe peninsula corridor?
17 Have any assessments been carried out of the noise from the planes and the public's perception of the increased noise over the past few years?
18 What measurements have been taken to examine air pollution from fumes and vapour trails over the area? What are the effects on the atmosphere of the vapour trails?
19 What is the likelihood of a block of frozen ice, jettisoned from a toilet compartment, falling from one of the planes, or are there rules to prevent this happening?
20 Which is the body people should complain to if they have concerns?