Star pressure leads to air consultations

FULL consultation is to take place over proposals to increase the number of planes flying over Suffolk - following pressure from The Evening Star.As reported in the Star last month, more proposals for changes to airspace are expected later this year to cope with the proposed growth of Stansted and Luton.

By Richard Cornwell

FULL consultation is to take place over proposals to increase the number of planes flying over Suffolk - following pressure from The Evening Star.

As reported in the Star last month, more proposals for changes to airspace are expected later this year to cope with the proposed growth of Stansted and Luton.

This could include a new flight path along the A12 and one in north Suffolk, and today it was revealed there could be a new stacking area over Wattisham, although the plans are not yet finalised and will not be revealed until later in the year.

When the airspace was changed over part of the county two years ago, very few people knew it was happening, and the public was not asked for its views at all.Councils were asked to comment - but only one bothered to reply.

The Civil Aviation Authority was heavily criticised about the way the changes were handled as the Star launched its Air Fair campaign.

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The changes increased the capacity above Felixstowe and the Ipswich area by 30 per cent, with more than 1,000 planes a day now flying over the county.

Now the CAA has improved its consultation and issued new guidance for how changes to airspace will be dealt with in future, including the need for improved and extensive consultation.

The CAA said the new document Airspace Change Process “sets out the roles and responsibilities of organisations proposing an airspace change, with a detailed framework for the consultation and environmental assessments to be completed before an application to the CAA can be made”.

John Arscott, director of airspace policy, said: “Following extensive consultation, we are very pleased to be publishing this new document today.

“We intend that this process should ensure that all matters effecting an airspace change should be considered before a decision is taken.”

It says consultation must be in clear, plain language, setting out what needs to be known and why with a full and careful explanation of what is being consulted upon, such as routes or timings of operations, and a variety of methods should also be used to find out what people think.

There must be extensive publicity, too - especially through newspapers and public meetings.

What do you think of the increase in the number of planes 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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