Scandal of Suffolk's skies revealed

TODAY The Evening Star reveals the full extent of the scandal of Suffolk's skies.

Richard Cornwell

TODAY The Evening Star reveals the full extent of the scandal of Suffolk's skies.

We show how our beautiful and peaceful county has been forced, unwittingly, to take the burgeoning burden of Britain's explosion of flights.

And that the situation is about to get a whole lot worse.

Through our dogged Air Fair investigations we have already revealed:

- Suffolk has become the “Clapham Junction” of the skies after it was targeted for thousands more planes - and the public didn't have a chance to comment on it before it commenced.

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- Planes from every major airport in the south and Midlands now travel inbound - and outbound - over our county.

- Thousands of new flights are set to be sent in and out of Britain, via Suffolk and new “stacking” areas to ease airport congestion are to be plonked over places as diverse as Ipswich and Newmarket.

- Our elected officials, from councillors to MPs, have been powerless in the face of decisions from central government, the Whitehall-controlled Civil Aviation Authority and the flight-controlling private company Nats.

- At long last, MPs are homing in on the issue - and government ministers are being forced to take notice.

The Star, which understands the need for sensible and properly-planned growth in air transport, has met huge obstacles as it seeks to bring the facts of the Suffolk situation to the public.

So today, in a special report inside this edition, we are re-issuing a series of questions to the skymasters at Nats, the company which prides itself on being a world-class company and which boasts of five years of profit. And we bring a new revelation to the debate.

- People living below flightpaths in Suffolk are being hammered by a new system which concentrates planes on certain routes, it is revealed today.

- Day after day, night after night, residents are seeing planes flying laser beam-like on the same routes - at peak times more than one every two minutes on the same track, with more going above and below in other directions.

- The system - called Precision Area Navigation (P-RNAV) - is to be even more widely used when changes to airspace are made next year, sending even more jets over certain areas.

Suffolk is already losing its sound of silence thanks to the increase in jet noise - but, unfairly, some people are set to take the full load of the increase.

And while the new navigation system will mean some people suffering greater noise than others, undoubtedly more and more people will be affected in years ahead as Stansted and Heathrow expand and the number of planes in our skies doubles.

Meanwhile, many campaign groups, including The Evening Star would like to see planes dispersed to “spread the load” when it comes to noise, allowing communities to have quiet days and noisy days, air management company NATS says the new policy is to concentrate the planes on direct routes.

“Where possible when designing or changing routes, the Civil Aviation Authority, encourages NATS to implement a modern navigation system called PRNAV which will tend to lead to aircraft being more concentrated around the route centreline for certain parts of the route,” said NATS.

- Is aircraft noise starting to get on your nerves? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk