No answers to air questions

GOVERNMENT officials have again passed the buck on answering questions about air traffic over Suffolk - claiming they do not have the answers.

GOVERNMENT officials have again passed the buck on answering questions about air traffic over Suffolk - claiming they do not have the answers.

The Evening Star posed more than 20 questions to the Department for Transport under a Freedom of Information Act request as part of our Air Fair campaign.

Answers sought included details of how many planes fly across Suffolk, who decided the Felixstowe area should take Clacton's planes and why, and why planes are being sent on the same flightpaths day after day and routes not altered to spread the noise.

But DfT officers say “this is not information that the department holds” and airspace planning and regulation is the responsibility of the independent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) while air management company NATS provides air traffic control services.

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It appears government has abdicated responsibility for air traffic, though in his reply to the Evening Star, senior information officer Ben Wills indicates the CAA has told the DfT it has answered the Star's questions and sent the department its reply.

NATS is proposing massive changes to airspace over Suffolk - including changes to flightpaths and new holding stacks - and is drawing up its final plan following consultation.

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Mr Wills said: “Once it has completed this analysis, it will submit the proposal to the CAA for assessment against regulatory requirements and as part of this process the CAA could seek the secretary of state's approval for the change.

“It would therefore be premature of this department to offer comment on the proposal whilst it is still subject to the rigours of the independent airspace change process.”

Hundreds of people joined Stop Stansted Expansion's annual Runway Ramble - walking through villages and across countryside threatened by BAA's second runway application for Stansted airport.

Historic buildings, homes, countryside and ancient woodland are at risk.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: “People in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire would all suffer from the increase in overflying that would result from the tripling of aircraft movements which BAA is seeking.

“They would also have to contend with greater pressure on the region's road and rail network because of the airport operator's emphasis on encouraging passengers to travel to Stansted by road and its reluctance to invest in the rail service to accommodate the proposed expansion.”

Are you fed up with the growing number of planes over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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