Flight path review suspended

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The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) review of proposed changes to Edinburgh Airport’s flight paths has been suspended.

Edinburgh Aurport had said that changes to flight paths were needed to cope with the soaring number of passengers, but local groups had raised concerns about the prospect of new routes and the impact it would have on communities.

The CCA stated that it will “not continue its review into Stage 5 of the Airspace Change Process”.

It added: “We have requested the airport address a number of technical and co-ordination issues.”

A coalition of community councils and elected representatives wrote to the CAA back in May asking for the consultation to be halted due to concerns over a lack of clarity in the proposals.

Residents across Falkirk, West Lothian and Fife said it was unclear as to how many flights would be passing over head, at what times, and what the noise and environmental impacts would be.

The airport had modified its plans following a consultation with members of the public.

Edinburgh Airport insisted its flight path proposals “work” and were “the best balance achievable”.

A spokesman for the airport responded to the decision from the CAA saying: “Scotland’s first airspace change programme in over 40 years is a complex exercise involving many organisations.

“Our airspace change programme is the first of many and it is clear that all of this needs to be co-ordinated with NATS (National Air Traffic Services).

“We’re clear that our proposal is the best balance achievable in terms of surrounding communities and our operation and works for Edinburgh and Scotland.

“We’ll be working with NATS on the co-ordination issues to allow the CAA to restart its analysis so we can develop the airport for the future.”

Campaign group Edinburgh Airport Watch welcomed the CAA’s decision to postpone the review.

A spokesman said: “These proposals enjoyed very little support in communities. The airport never needed all these flight paths, they operate fewer take-offs and landings today than 10 years ago.

“We must also remember the tens of thousands of people who continue to suffer daily noise abuse from Edinburgh Airport.

“The airport cannot continue to ignore the plight of all these people in their homes and we call on them to learn from their past mistakes, and start a proper, meaningful and respectful dialogue with communities that leads to substantial improvements.”

Green MSPs have welcomed the news that the plans for new flight paths out of the airport have been put on hold, but say that proper consideration need to be given to Scotland’s transport priorities before the plans can continue.

Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell said: “These plans have been arrogantly rushed through by Edinburgh Airport and the result has been flaws at every stage of the consultation.

“Now we learn that even the technical aspects of the proposal were not up to scratch and we’re pleased to see the CAA taking their duty as regulators seriously and putting a halt to these plans.

“This is only a temporary reprieve for local communities though, as the airport can still re-submit their application. We think there needs to be a halt to unfettered airport expansion whilst we seriously consider Scotland’s connectivity needs.

“The airport has said they are looking to increase peak time capacity, when many of the flights leaving are to London or other parts of the UK.

“Proper investment in rail could easily meet this demand without sacrificing the health and wellbeing of local communities. This includes pulling the plug on the Scottish Government’s planned cuts to Air Departure Tax, which only reinforces the myth that unsustainable growth in aviation is a good thing.”

Further detail on the reasons behind the CAA’s decision is due to be published next week.