Public meeting called on plane problems

VILLAGERS claim noise disturbance from low-level aircraft is ruining their peaceful existence after a change in flight paths for planes using Stansted Airport.

VILLAGERS claim noise disturbance from low-level aircraft is ruining their peaceful existence after a change in flight paths for planes using Stansted Airport.

Residents in the Box and Stour valleys have complained of increased flight activity and noise levels - and now South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo has called a public meeting to discuss the problems.

The change took place in March, with air traffic directed away from the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and re-routed over the Box Valley.

The new route, devised by National Air Traffic Services, is used as an overflow for aircraft waiting to access Abbott's Holding Stack, above Sudbury.

But villagers living in the affected area claim problems with noise have intensified over the summer.

Chris Beckett, chairman of Little Cornard Parish Council, said: "The issue is causing a lot of concern in the village as I think people who didn't notice anything before are suddenly noticing and hearing the planes.

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"Since the change in the flight path, there is a great frequency of planes and it makes people more conscious of them."

Eddie Kench, a member of the South Suffolk Air Traffic Action Group, said he was concerned picturesque parts of the county were suffering.

"People come to Suffolk because it is such a lovely beautiful area - but the whole area is being destroyed.

"We are worried about the [Stansted] expansion plans and we are worried about our children's future. Our biggest concern is not what is happening now, but what could happen tomorrow.

"If another runway is built at Stansted, our lives would be absolutely hell. The amount of planes above our homes would be incredible."

In addition to fears over noise levels, one county councillor said there was also a safety risk to having planes stacking up over a well-populated market town.

Nick Irwin, Labour councillor for Sudbury, said: "We all saw the tragic events when the two Russian planes crashed - what if that happened over Sudbury.

"There is also the danger of terrorist activity on any of these planes and if a plane was going to crash, I would rather it be over farmland than on a school."

Conservative MP Mr Yeo organised the public meeting after he was contacted by a number of concerned constituents on the matter.

He said: "There continues to be a widespread concern about noise intrusion and this is causing concern over quite a wide area.

"I thought it was time for everyone to come together and air their views to see what we can try and do with a co-ordinated approach."

Last month, Sudbury Town Council took the unprecedented step of hiring special equipment from the Stop Stansted Expansion group to monitor the noise and height of the increasing number of jets flying over the town while waiting to land at Stansted Airport.

The meeting will take place from 7pm on Friday in Sudbury Town Hall.

No-one from National Air Traffic Services was available for comment last night.

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