New fight in battle against flights

OPPOSITION to proposals to change air routes over Suffolk is today gathering momentum.And the campaign against a second runway for Stansted Airport is also stepping up a notch with a major rally being held to galvanise protest groups.

OPPOSITION to proposals to change air routes over Suffolk is today gathering momentum.

And the campaign against a second runway for Stansted Airport is also stepping up a notch with a major rally being held to galvanise protest groups.

Proposals by NATS (National Air Traffic Services) to place aircraft holding stacks over areas of rural Suffolk have prompted Cambridgeshire-based protest group RuralPeace to link up with residents under the holding area planned for villages south of Stowmarket.

RuralPeace spokeswoman Pam Timbrell said: “the aircraft will join the hold at 7,000ft and subsequent arriving aircraft will join above that at 1,000ft intervals, up to 14,000ft - so at busy times up to 8 planes could be circling as they wait to land at Stansted.

“Aircraft may be instructed to descend beneath the level of the hold at any point, so 7,000ft may not be the lowest that planes will cross the area.

“The reality is that people who have been involved in similar consultation for airspace change in the past complain that they felt misled about the impact it would have. People are keen to protect the peace & tranquillity of their rural communities. We are calling for NATS to site these stacks off-shore as they are in the U.S.”

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RuralPeace set up a website, initially covering the west Cambs stack, but now extending to include the one set for the SW of Newmarket area, and the one planned for Suffolk.

“We set up the website to offer some background information for people as NATS refused to offer public meetings or answer queries on the telephone and this is a complicated subject which will have a big impact on people's lives and the environment they live in” said Mrs Timbrell.

Meanwhile members of the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign are holding a rally against the proposed second runway at Bishop's Stortford tonight.

MPs are unable to attend the rally because the House of Commons is debating the proposed expansion at Heathrow, but many have sent messages of support.

Among those are South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo who said: “I must reiterate my long standing and unqualified opposition to the continued growth of Stansted Airport.

“Under the National Air Traffic Service's recently proposed flight paths changes, residents of communities in my constituency would have their peace shattered by aircraft noise even with the existing numbers of flights to and from the airport.

“Any expansion in flight numbers will cause misery to many of the communities I represent in Suffolk. A second runway would also mean the permanent loss of a huge swathe of unspoilt countryside and ancient woodlands.

“As BAA eventually admitted the pollution impacts of their plans for increased flights will be far more serious than it originally claimed.”

BAA submitted a formal planning application for a second runway last month.

It wants the new runway to be open in 2015, allowing the airport to handle 68 million passengers a year by 2030. It currently handles 23.6 million passengers a year.