New proposals coming on jet paths

THIS autumn air chiefs are expected to unveil new proposals to increase even further the number of jets flying over Suffolk.

THIS autumn air chiefs are expected to unveil new proposals to increase even further the number of jets flying over Suffolk.

The plans to expand airspace and create new flight corridors, and possibly an extra stacking area, will be needed if Stansted is given the go-ahead for the first phase of its development project.

Maximum use of the current runway - if allowed by the public inquiry currently taking place - will mean ten million more passengers a year on 23,000 extra flights, many of them coming over Suffolk.

Details of where the extra flights will go are secret at the moment, but there are strong indications that there could be a stacking area - where planes will circle and waiting for landing slots - over Wattisham.

Tonight we pose ten questions to our community leaders to see how they are gearing up to deal with this move.

Having failed residents the first time by not taking a strong stance and in some cases not commenting at all, we are challenging them to say what their views are now - and how they will be supporting residents living under Suffolk's superhighways of the sky this time around.

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It is understood some of the councils are already aware of the proposed airspace changes.

That means they should be ready to deal with the issues and should have a firm view on what has happened so far, with the huge increase in air traffic now causing noise nuisance at times and worries over pollution in the sky and on the ground.

But everyone wants to know if they will act - and whether they will take the determined stance we all need to prevent the peace and tranquillity of our beautiful county being ruined forever.

Also later this year Stansted will be submitting its application for a second runway. This will add around 300,000 flights a year - again many of which will come over our county.

Councils will be invited to submit their views, and although parts of our county are 50 miles and more from Stansted, it is important local authorities analyse how that expansion will affect those communities - and the wider environment, such as the Suffolk Sandlings and Minsmere bird reserve - living under the flightpaths which will grow busier and busier.

What do you think of the number of planes in our skies - and the noise and air pollution they cause? Let us have your views - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

What the councils said when they were asked to accept a previous 30pc increase in air traffic over Suffolk:

Suffolk County Council said: “The council welcomed the reduction in disturbance within the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The routeing of the majority of flights inbound to Stansted and Luton from continental Europe to the north of Ipswich, rather than to the south via the Clacton Beacon, should significantly reduce overflying of the Vale.

“Similarly, the extension northwards of controlled airspace over southern east Anglia should provide the opportunity to reduce overflying by flights outbound to the east.

“The benefits to Dedham Vale appear to be offset to some degree by the introduction of a new inbound route over the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB and the new LAPRA stack (north Ipswich). However, if the minimum heights specified in the consultation are adhered to, adverse impacts should be limited.

“The consequences of lowering the controlled floorspace base in the Ipswich area from 13,500 feet to 8,500 feet may be more noticeable, although the resulting ability to maintain continuous descent profiles into the ABBOT stack and thereby reduce noise levels is acknowledged.”

Babergh District Council resolved “that the Ministry of Defence and National Air Traffic Services be informed:

(a) While welcoming the opportunity to comment we cannot make meaningful objective comments due to the lack of accessible, understandable information on the proposal. Greater clarity should have been provided on the noise and environmental impact of the proposals on identified communities.

(b) If the proposals are implemented we request that steps are taken to minimise the environmental impact on the Dedham Vale AONB and all of Babergh District.

(c) Request that we are consulted, and our views taken into account, if there are any further substantial increases in air traffic or night flying over the Babergh District.

Suffolk Coastal said: “We did not respond at the time, however we have been in active discussion with National Air Traffic Services ( NATS) to ensure that issues that may have a potential impact on residents of our district continue to be addressed by NATS. Our response is based on both the needs of national air traffic and the effect on our district.

“It is our view there were no justifiable objections that the council could

have made that would have carried any real weight with NATS.

“It was concluded that there would be no significant additional noise or air pollution in this district as a result of the proposal, and there are no powers in the environmental protection act for a council to take any action against noise nuisance from aircraft. We did consult with Suffolk Coast and Heaths and we understand that they could see no reason to object.”

A Mid Suffolk spokeswoman said the consultation was understood to be informal and was dealt with at officer level by the environmental health department.

It was felt with planes flying over the district at around 15,000 feet that there would not be a large impact in terms of noise and pollution.

Since the consultation councillors had raised concerns, further information had been sought and a watching brief was being kept.

An Ipswich Council spokeswoman said it was not known if there was an official response made to the consultation but the matter was not brought to councillors. Officers felt the changes would not have a serious impact on the town.

Our ten questions for the councils:

1 What is the council's view on the current numbers of flights overflying Suffolk?

2 Is the council concerned about the future growth of Stansted and the extra air traffic this will generate over the county?

3 Does the council have - or is prepared to appoint - an officer whose responsibility includes aviation concerns?

4 Is the council aware of the proposed changes in airspace to be unveiled later this year?

5 Is the council currently in correspondence or communication with the CAA and NATS over these changes?

6 Will the council be making representations about the changes?

7 What is the council doing to safeguard communities from the impact of air travel and ensure our quality of life is not spoiled - and what steps will it being taking in the future?

8 Noise from aircraft is increasing over some communities - is the council prepared to take up this issue with the government on behalf of its residents?

9 Has the council analysed the potential impact of a second runway for Stansted on its area?

10 Will the council be making a formal objection when a planning application for a second runway is made?

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