SCOTLAND’s busiest airport has appointed a full-time adviser to deal with noise complaints – before it even decides on controversial new flight paths.
Edinburgh Airport 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 last week revealed that almost 70% of community councils in the affected areas are opposed to the plans.
The trial of a new flight path had to be cancelled last year after around 8,000 complaints were lodged within four months, according to the AirportWatch group.
And before the new routes are settled, the airport has appointed June McClung to handle noise complaints, review noise policy, and liaise with communities and campaigners.
The airport will also create an independent noise management board which is expected to have around 14 members, including local councillors and representatives from community councils.
Helena Paul, a campaigner with the Edinburgh AirportWatch group, attacked the move, saying: “Locals don’t want a noise board, they want their peace and quiet back.”
She said: “They will say they are listening to communities but they won’t do anything about it.
“The number of complaints to Edinburgh Airport is rocketing. Before 2015 they got nine or ten complaints per quarter.
“During the trial they got over 8000 complaints over four months, which is partly why it had to stop early.
“But in quarter two of 2016 there were 420 complaints and in quarter three there were 608.
“They say it’s because people are more aware of how to complain, but it’s because they are more exposed to noise.”
Asked if the appointment of a noise adviser meant they were anticipating a big increase in nouse complaints, a spokesman said it was “more to do with the airport’s commitment to working collaboratively with our neighbouring communities”.
Edinburgh Airport’s Director of Communications, Gordon Robertson, said: “This will form a key part of the airport’s wider engagement involving the airport, its neighbours and partners to ensure communities are involved and informed through open dialogue and clear data.
“We care deeply about our local relationships as we are local ourselves – a great number of the people who benefit from the 23,000 jobs that Edinburgh Airport supports live near the airport.”
And Hannah Bardell, SNP MP for Livingston, who has been campaigning for better consultation by the airport, believes the announcment is “extremely positive”.
She said: “The proof will be in the pudding, of course, in terms of how the engagement works. “