An organisation opposing the expansion of Stansted Airport has said there must be “clear and compelling benefits” for residents before changes are made to the flight paths of departing planes.

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Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said affected communities must be fully engaged about the proposals.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) announced the beginning of a consultation this week on proposals to redirect at least 52 daytime flights a day out of Stansted Airport from a southern flight path to an eastern flight path, which would take planes over north Essex.

The consultation ends on September 8.

The proposals would allow planes to ascend into the sky more quickly and avoid air traffic generated by Heathrow airport, which often forces planes travelling south to remain below 7,000 feet until they reach the Thames Estuary, or even Kent. The move would also reduce CO2 emissions, according to NATS.

However, it would result in the number of flights on the eastern route doubling, increasing noise pollution.

SSE raised concerns about the impact of this “intensification” in air traffic activity and its effect on rural areas where ambient noise was low.

SSE’s noise adviser Martin Peachey said: “For people living near Stansted and under flight paths, there would inevitably be winners and losers if these changes were to be implemented. SSE supports all efforts which reduce aircraft noise and carbon emissions in the local community, and before making its response, will be consulting its members to learn from them what they think of the proposed changes.”

A NATS spokesman said: “The ‘intensification’ of flights being referred to is in line with Government direction regarding the mitigation of overall noise impacts. Working within DfT guidance of favouring concentration over dispersal gives the best environmental outcome as it minimises the number of people overflown at low altitudes. This proposal will also result in the added benefits of reduced delay and reduced CO2 emissions.”

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