Public consultation for new Edinburgh Airport flight path met with negative response

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PROPOSALS for new Edinburgh Airport flight paths have met with an overwhelmingly negative response.

The airport – Scotland’s busiest – wants to increase capacity by allowing jets to land and take off using a wider variety of routes than at present.

But its own consultation document published today reveals that almost 70% of community councils in the affected areas are opposed to the plans.

Among councillors, MSPs, MPs and “stakeholder” groups, 59% are against Edinburgh Airport’s scheme.

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According to website AirportWatch the change would be likely to impact around 300,000 people living around Falkirk, West Lothian and Fife who are currently not affected by the airport.

In Fife, many residents objected to the prospect of jets flying above homes and schools below 4,000ft, with noise levels reaching 73 decibels, the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner 3 ft away.

At present, the approach to the Airport takes most aircraft over the Forth and north-eastern outskirts of the city or over Livingston, West Lothian.

The proposed new departures and approaches affect a much wider area of east central Scotland as jets could turn north or south.

An attempt to experiment with routes last year had to be abandoned as a result of a massive backlash over its environmental impact.

Yesterday’s Initial Consultation report, called the Airspace Change Programme, shows that 7,193 negative responses were logged regarding the plans which have been decide to deal with high visitor numbers.

Noise concerns were flagged up by 3,370 respondents accounting for 47% of negative issues raised.

One local said: “A Sunday night between 8pm and midnight is especially bad. Quite why you have to use Livingston, one of the most densely populated areas in West Lothian as a flight path is beyond me.”

Another said: “I totally oppose the plans of the airport to alter the flight paths over what have been previously peaceful and tranquil areas of countryside.”

Health concern issues included 200 people who were worried that noise from new flight paths could harm their sleeping patterns.

A further 88 were concerned that excess noise could increase stress and mental health issues while 27 people raised concerns over breathing problems.

One family said: “We have only just recently moved into the area and very happy but concerned how the change to flight paths will have an affect on the noise in the area.

“We have a young baby and second child on the way and unaware how noisy this will be and if this will affect their and our sleep.”

The data analysis also showed that 444 respondents raised issues on the topic of pollution and the environment.

One local said: “I am worried about the effect this has on the environment and my health.
My area was a quite one before the planes and now we have roaring planes overhead.”

Another said: “Any jettison of fuel from incoming flights over Aberdour [Fife] will pollute the local environment.”

Despite the widespread evidence of opposition, the report reveals apparent apathy among councillors with just 1% of those contacted responding to the consultation.

All of Scotland’s 129 MSPs and 59 MPs were contacted but only 11 replied.

Gordon Dewar, Edinburgh Airport’s Chief Executive, said: “This Airspace Change Programme consultation has been a very high priority since it began in June.

“We have gone over and above and what any other UK airport has done in terms of reaching out and listening to our neighbouring communities.

“The report does not put forward our response to the consultation. Instead, it describes what we did to highlight this initial public consultation and what the public, organisations and elected representatives told us.

“We will be presenting our design options – in part guided by the findings of this initial consultation – and beginning a second consultation in early 2017.”

Edinburgh Airport currently contributes almost £1billion each year to the Scottish economy and supports 23,000 jobs across the country.

It is owned and operated by Global Infrastructure Partners who also own and operate Gatwick Airport and London City Airport.

In 2014 they were the first Scottish airport to hit the 10 million passenger mark which continued to rise to 11.1m visitors in 2015.

Airport officials say revealed they are currently on track to have their busiest year yet prompting plans to invest in new ways to deal with rising numbers.

 
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