New appeal over flight stack plans

CAMPAIGNERS fighting controversial plans to move flight paths over their village homes have made a direct appeal to a Government minister.

Dave Gooderham

CAMPAIGNERS fighting controversial plans to move flight paths over their village homes have made a direct appeal to a Government minister.

They have written to aviation minister Jim Fitzpatrick after claiming air traffic bosses were not taking their concerns seriously enough.

The proposals - which could see a massive increase of flights over a number of villages centred on Lavenham - have been met with widespread concern from residents, councils and MPs.

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Nats - formerly the National Air Traffic Service - proposed the changes which would see changes in the way planes using Stansted Airport are stacked in the skies.

It has revealed that 85% of individuals and 76% of organisations who responded to public consultation opposed the plans.

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But campaigners said they feared NATS was not listening to their concerns and was not taking seriously alternative proposals to stack plans over the North Sea.

The Save Our Silence Action Group is now writing to Mr Fitzpatrick and the Civil Aviation Authority, which is set to make the final decision on the plans, to put its case.

Frances Bee, a leading protestor from Thorpe Morieux, near Bury St Edmunds, said: “It is clear that everyone feels Nats has got this wrong and I hope the powers-that-be will listen.

“We are not being NIMBYs, we are just putting forward evidence that Nats has got this wrong.

“With so much strength of feeling coming through, it is very hard to envisage that our views could be ignored.”

Bosses at Nats said they had received constructive views on the proposals with many concerned over noise generated by increased air traffic.

But after the authority published its initial feedback report into the proposed changes to the Stansted Eastern Hold, Mrs Bee said campaigners had been left with a mixture of “hope and despair”.

While the draft findings note a wave of concern about the plans, members of the action group said they were disappointed that Nats had not “addressed many of the issues”.

And they questioned why the possibility of moving flight paths over the North Sea had not been “properly and fully explored”.

Suffolk MPs Tim Yeo and David Ruffley will be meeting with Mr Fitzpatrick on October 27 to lobby against the plans.

Mr Ruffley said: “I will be making it very clear to the minister that the present proposals will have a devastating effect on my constituents who live in villages under the proposed Stansted Eastern Hold.”

A spokesman for Nats said no date would be set for when a final decision over the flight paths would be made until all the feedback had been looked at in detail.

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