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Airport noise community groups write to David Cameron calling for review of airspace policy

22nd February, 2016

In an open letter to David Cameron, which AEF co-ordinated, community groups concerned about the impacts of flight path changes 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. See background briefing here.

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, the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin indicated in an evidence session with the Transport Select Committee 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 representatives from around Edinburgh Airport, in addition to 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 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 Heathrow, Gatwick and London City Airports, asking for recent airspace changes to be reversed, on which there has been no substantive progress

Download: Joint letter to David Cameron

Download: Short media briefing

Read the accompanying press release.

Image credit: Fotorus via Flickr