'Plane every two minutes' over villages

A CONCERNED council leader has demanded a meeting with air traffic bosses over plans which could see one plane every two minutes flying over parts of Suffolk.

Dave Gooderham

A CONCERNED council leader has demanded a meeting with air traffic bosses over plans which could see one plane every two minutes flying over parts of Suffolk.

Hundreds of residents from Lavenham and the surrounding area packed a public meeting last week to call for a U-turn on the controversial aircraft stacking proposals, which they fear would wreck their idyllic lifestyles.

Now, after NATS, formerly the National Air Traffic Service, declined to attend the meeting or talk to residents, Suffolk County Council leader Jeremy Pembroke has insisted he be allowed to air local concerns face-to-face.

Mr Pembroke said: “This is not about residents not accepting aircrafts are part of their lives. We know this has to happen but we don't see why the flight stack has to be over some of the most rural parts of the county when it could be re-routed over the North Sea.

“I think it is important that NATS is made aware that this is not 'nimbyism'. It is just that people in this area love their tranquil countryside and want to keep that tranquillity.

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“The public meeting was very good with very sensible observations and I now have a very strong idea about residents' concerns.”

Campaigners, who have launched the action group Save Our Silence as well as publishing 5,000 leaflets, now hope to start petitions across the estimated 37 affected villages.

Frances Bee, the Thorpe Morieux resident who organised the public meeting, said: “We welcome Mr Pembroke's calls for a meeting. NATS have so far been very illusive but we think this would be very important.

“There is a lot of concern, worry and anger about what is happening and we would encourage everyone to respond individually to NATS along with our collective response.

“I was pleased with how the meeting went. I think a lot of people came along to find out more as it is very hard when you have not experienced aircraft noise to such an extent.”

The proposals to move flight paths away from Sudbury and over the Suffolk villages were likened by one resident to ploughing a motorway through the heart of the countryside. It is estimated that one aircraft would be heard every two minutes during peak times.

A spokesman for NATS said it was not their policy to meet with residents or attend public meetings. But he said people were being encouraged to get involved in a consultation process, which closes on May 22, and NATS would use the feedback to consider its position.

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