Report due on controversial flightpaths

AIR chiefs say they will publish a report on all the feedback they have received over their controversial proposed changes to flightpaths within the next four weeks.

AIR chiefs say they will publish a report on all the feedback they have received over their controversial proposed changes to flightpaths within the next four weeks.

Air management company NATS is understood to have received more than 5,000 protests - with huge concern over the number of jets now and in the future with Stansted and Heathrow both set for massive expansion.

Officials are currently analysing the letters from protest groups, individuals, airlines, councils, conservation organisations and a wide variety of other bodies.

A spokesman for NATS said: “NATS is now examining submissions from formal consultees and members of the public, and will carefully consider the comments and suggestions put to us.

“All feedback received will be analysed and summarised in a report which will be published on the NATS website towards the end of July”

The company will then begin completing its submission for the Civil Aviation Authority(CAA), having taken account of the consultation, which it is expected to lodge in the autumn.

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The CAA, the UK's airspace regulator, will then make the final decision - though NATS hopes the changes can be put in place in spring 2009.

“Airspace change is a complex process and NATS applies the utmost rigour to developing design proposals which give full consideration to all the issues surrounding safety, efficiency and the environment,” said NATS.

The biggest concerns in Suffolk are the enormous volume of air traffic going over the county with observers estimating 1,200 flights a day, and the changes proposed to stacks used for jets to circle while waiting for slots to land at Stansted.

The county council has labelled the changes as premature, especially with decisions still to be made over whether Stansted can expand by increasing its current capacity and build a second runway, plus the planned third runway at Heathrow.

NATS has to cope with the number of planes generated by airlines and airports but it decides where the jets will fly, ensuring they can fly safely, smoothly and with as little environmental impact as possible - especially for those living on the ground.

Campaigners worried over the proposed stack between Stowmarket and Hadleigh have called for stacking to be done over the sea rather than countryside.

They say the new stack would affect 37 villages and mean a plane every two minutes.

Should NATS cut the number of planes flying over Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk