Pledge to consult communities

COMMUNITIES living under busy flightpaths will be considered when changes are made to airspace to cope with huge increases in the amount of air traffic.

COMMUNITIES living under busy flightpaths will be considered when changes are made to airspace to cope with huge increases in the amount of air traffic.

Skylords pledged today to look at populated areas to see whether they are having too many planes fly over them and the topic has already been discussed with county council chiefs.

Suffolk has around 1,200 jets a day flying across it - the Felixstowe peninsula alone has more than 600 on average.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is drawing up what it describes as the biggest airspace changes anywhere in the world in the most complex airspace in the world, which it expects to unveil early in the new year when it applies to the Civil Aviation Authority for the alterations.


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The changes are needed because of the huge growth forecast in air traffic - the government expects it to double in the next 20 years because of the enormous demand for cheap flights.

Jane Johnston, head of external communications for NATS, said the changes would also improve air traffic controllers' workload, reduce delays for flights, ensure safe management of busier skies, and allow environmental improvements such as continuous descent approaches, which can cut planes' fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

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It is not designed to support the expansion of one airport - such as Stansted's current bid to increase its passenger numbers by ten million, and plans in the pipeline for a second runway.

“Also we are mindful of the population we are flying over and this will be taken into account in the changes,” she said.

“We have already had contact with the county councils in the area to obtain their views and the discussions have included areas where they would be concerned to have more flights.

“This includes schools, hospitals, observatories, centres of population, areas of outstanding natural beauty and so on.

“We acknowledge the concerns of people on the ground.

“Noise though is a difficult topic - what one person hears, another might not. What annoys one person might be acceptable to another.

“Whether you hear plane noise depends on the time of the year, such as whether you have windows open or are in the garden, or whether it's windy or cloudy or a clear day.”

If agreed by the CAA, the airspace changes would come into effect in 2009.

Should more planes be allowed to fly 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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