Outrage at secrecy over planes

CAMPAIGNERS today branded as “absolutely outrageous” a refusal by skylords to say how many extra planes will fly over Suffolk when airspace changes increase air traffic.

CAMPAIGNERS today branded as “absolutely outrageous” a refusal by skylords to say how many extra planes will fly over Suffolk when airspace changes increase air traffic.

They say it will be impossible for the public to understand or comment upon the proposed changes unless they can be told how many planes there are now - and how many there will be in the future.

But officials at both the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and National Air Traffic Services (NATS) have repeatedly declared they do not count the number of aircraft flying over particular areas.

Observers say at present there are more than 100,000 jets going over Suffolk each year, and possibly up to 250,000.


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If Stansted gets permission to use its current runway to the maximum and to build a second runway, this will generate 375,000 extra flights - at least half of which would fly over Suffolk and south Norfolk, along with extra planes from growing business at Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick, East Midlands and London City.

Dick Histed, of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group (SSATAG), said it was essential NATS and the CAA calculated how many planes would be overflying the county.

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Mr Histed said: “It is absolutely outrageous that they keep saying they don't know and can't tell us how many planes are flying over now.

“These figures are essential if we are to understand how they are proposing to change the airspace above us.

“For anyone in their right mind it would be the first question they would ask: How many planes will this airspace cater for and where will they come from and be going?

“They can find out how many planes there are, it's not difficult - they just don't want us to know.”

Mr Histed said he written to the CAA and twice to NATS but received no answers.

He said even if NATS did not log the routes of aircraft, planes carried equipment on board which detailed every journey as part of accident information data, triggered by radar transponders.

He said: “It should not be beyond the wit of someone to come up with a computer programme to extract these details.”

Consultation on the changes - set to come into force in 2009 - will start in January.

Do you think more planes should be allowed over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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