Suffolk flights raised in parliament

A LEADING campaigner against increasing passenger plane flights over Suffolk has called for the jets to be stacked over the North Sea instead of peaceful villages and countryside.

A LEADING campaigner against increasing passenger plane flights over Suffolk has called for the jets to be stacked over the North Sea instead of peaceful villages and countryside.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market has raised the issue in Parliament - and wants to know how much residents' views will be taken into account when the final decisions are made.

Changes to airspace - if agreed - will create a new holding stack for planes waiting to land at Stansted airport.

The stack will be over an area between Stowmarket and Hadleigh. It is estimated that one aircraft would be heard every two minutes during peak times and would affect 37 villages.

Protesters have likened the plan to ploughing a motorway through the heart of idyllic countryside.

The area is just one of those affected by the airspace changes with new routes proposed to and from the Stowmarket stack and another new Stansted stack south of Newmarket. Luton-bound planes should in future fly higher and avoid urban areas.

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Baroness Scott asked: “What account is taken of potential noise nuisance when decisions are made concerning flight stacking, what account is taken of responses generated by public consultation exercises on flight stacking proposals, and have they considered flight stacking over the North Sea as an alternative to using airspace over Suffolk?”

Government spokesman Lord Bassam of Brighton said the final decisions would be made by the Civil Aviation Authority.

“Detailed guidance is given on what impacts are to be taken into account, how they should be measured and who should be consulted,” he said.

“Informed by the consultation, the sponsor (NATS) submits the proposal to the CAA's directorate of airspace policy for assessment against regulatory requirements.

“In determining whether to accept or reject a proposal, the CAA's process reflects the Secretary of State's directions and guidance to the CAA on the exercise of its statutory duties and environmental objectives.”

At present around 1,200 planes a day fly over Suffolk - including 600 over the Felixstowe peninsula, many as low as 8,000ft.

NATS says it has taken into account populations on the ground and the changes would see flights rerouted away from many urban areas. There would be 22,000 fewer people living under stacks in future.

The company is currently carrying out consultation over the changes to airspace and people have until May 22 to give their views.

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