Airport noise community groups write to David Cameron calling for airspace review
Over 20 groups around airports across the South East , including Teddington Action Group (TAG), and even next to Edinburgh Airport affected by recent flight path trials write to David Cameron
The letter states airspace policy is “not fit for purpose” and calls for an immediate review and moratorium on new flight path trials
The letter follows a delay in the review of airspace policy to after a decision on a new runway, creating uncertainty for affected communities
In an open letter to David Cameron, co-ordinated by the national NGO Aviation Environment Federation, community groups concerned about noise from airports have written to call on the Government to bring forward a review of airspace policy and the process for consultation and engagement. The letter describes the current approach for making airspace changes as “not fit for purpose” and demands that a moratorium on flight path trials and airspace decisions is introduced until a new policy is put in place.
Flight path trials over the last few years have led to significant community disturbance around major airports across the UK, especially where communities have been overflown for the first time. In many cases, flight path trials were cancelled early following vociferous reactions from the public. In Teddington and Twickenham, alone, over 7,000 people signed a petition (initiated by the Teddington Town website in August/September 2014).
The Government and the Civil Aviation Authority were expected to consult on proposals to change the policy and process for making changes to flight paths early this year. However, it has emerged that the Government does not currently plan to review its policy for airspace change until at least the summer, when it makes a decision on South East airport expansion.
The letter’s 24 signatories, including Teddington Action Group (TAG) and representatives from around Edinburgh Airport, in addition to other groups in the South East and nationally representative organisations, stress that the airspace policy review is required urgently to address existing problems relating to a reorganisation of UK airspace and should be independent of any future decisions on South East airport capacity.
The letter argues that issues related to airspace change can evoke strong community responses yet the guiding principles underpinning the existing policy and process are unclear or lacking in supporting evidence. A recent consultant’s report for the Civil Aviation Authority (“Independent Review of the of the Civil Aviation Authority’s Airspace Change Process” by consultants Helios) concluded that it is not clear whether, for example, the Government considers it appropriate to expose new communities to aircraft noise. Until these issues are resolved, the letter calls for a moratorium on new flight path trials except where there is a community preference to reverse those which have already taken place.
The letter reinforces previous requests to Ministers, by groups around Gatwick London City and Heathrow Airports, including Teddington Action Group, asking for recent airspace changes to be reversed, on which there has been no substantive progress.
Paul McGuinness, spokesperson for Teddington Action Group, community group set up in the wake of Heathrow flight path trials, said:
“Since 1990, the number of flights in our skies has increased by 80% and are projected to increase by another 45% by 2036. Regulation, noise metrics and emissions standards have not kept pace with this unrestrained explosion of planes in our sky. To fit all of these planes in, UK airspace is being abused under the guise of ‘airspace modernisation’. The creators of the UK airspace modernisation program have failed to include the impacts on the overflown in any of their proposed changes, many of which have already been implemented by stealth.
“UK communities have had their lives turned upside down by increasingly unbearable noise and air pollution levels. To reduce airlines’ costs, planes are flying far lower than previously over UK towns and villages along flightpaths that are either new or radically altered. Given that an estimated 28.9 million people will be impacted by changes under the government’s Future Airspace Strategy it is time that the UK Government finally recognised the very real impacts that unrestrained aviation growth and industry greed are having on UK citizens in terms of our health, our air and our quality of life”