Minister 'must answer flight path fears'

RESIDENTS of some of Suffolk's most tranquil villages could lock horns with a senior government minister over plans to move flight paths over their homes.

Dave Gooderham

RESIDENTS of some of Suffolk's most tranquil villages could lock horns with a senior government minister over plans to move flight paths over their homes.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo and action group members, directly affected by the proposals, last night demanded urgent talks with Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly over the controversial plans.

Dozens of villages are facing an anxious future under the bid, unveiled by NATS, formerly the National Traffic Air Services, with fears that their idyllic lifestyles could be shattered by planes going over their homes every two minutes.


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With just a week remaining until the consultation ends, Mr Yeo said hundreds of constituents were “deeply concerned” about the proposals.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, Mr Yeo said: “These proposals, if approved without alteration, will diminish the quality of life of thousands of Suffolk residents. They will also affect businesses, damage the rural tourist economy and reduce the value of many people's assets.

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“For my constituents, one of the principal frustrations of this process is the lack of political accountability of NATS which has led to a firm perception that alterations in airspace are being designed for the benefit of the airline industry alone, with the interests and views of the ordinary British citizen largely ignored.

“Since you (Mrs Kelly) have ultimate responsibility for this consultation process, I believe that those residents whose lives will be affected by this decision should have an opportunity to put their case directly to you. I look forward to your response.”

Members of the Save Our Silence action group will be among those protesting outside NATS' headquarters in London next Thursday - on the same day the consultation concludes.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley has backed the campaign claiming that his constituents could have their peace and quiet shattered.

He said: “I call on NATS to go back to the drawing board and rethink air traffic proposals for our part of Suffolk. They are dumping noise pollution on my constituents, whereas they should be looking at ways to reduce the impact of air traffic over Suffolk, particularly if Stansted air traffic increases significantly in the future.

“My constituents pointed out that people don't have to live in the countryside to be affected by the NATS proposals - this is not a 'nimby' protest. Many town dwellers visit rural areas to get some peace and quiet. If the tranquillity we currently enjoy in our delightful villages is shattered, tourism and the rural economy will suffer.”

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