Residents in the dark over flight path

RESIDENTS in Suffolk villages have hit out at the positioning of a new flightpath and holding stack claiming they knew nothing of the plans.WithWith less than seven weeksbefore the stack becomes available for use, the MP and councillors for the area have expressed concerns and claim they have not been consulted about it.

RESIDENTS in Suffolk villages have hit out at the positioning of a new flightpath and holding stack claiming they knew nothing of the plans.

WithWith less than seven weeksbefore the stack becomes available for use, the MP and councillors for the area have expressed concerns and claim they have not been consulted about it.

Aviation bosses have earmarked a spot two miles east of Claydon for the new stack, which will hold planes coming in to Stansted Airport. It will act as an overflow site for the main holding point above the Sudbury area, with planes following a flight path from the North Sea.

They have also drawn up a new flightpath north of Ipswich after campaigners won their battle to have the previous route over the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty moved.


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Aviation experts predicted that would mean planes would likely be directed over the Framlingham, Debenham and Grundisburgh areas as they headed for the Claydon and Sudbury stacks.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) claims the Claydon holding stack, which will be two miles north of Ipswich, will cause “minimal” noise disruption because its minimum height is 15,000ft.

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The new holding stack in Suffolk is part of the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) blueprint to cope with increasing air traffic in the region caused by the growth of Stansted Airport.

Clive Crane, district councillor for Claydon, said: “This is the first I have heard of it, there has been no official consultation and notification, and I will be looking into it.

Trevor Mallett, chairman of Grundisburgh and Culpho Parish Council, said: “At the moment we do not know if we should be worried about it or if we are making a fuss over something we do not understand. When there is uncertainty it causes concern.”

The council has written to NATs asking for the plans to be explained but he said that the reply was so technical it was difficult to understand the exact consequences.

Sir Michael Lord, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: “I was concerned about this holding stack and have looked into it in great detail. I have written to both NATS and the CAA and put tough questions to them, and I am reasonably reassured.

“It is not a cause for great concern but it is not something we should let pass without query and I will be keeping a watching brief on it.”

Timothy Passmore, district councillor for the Helmingham and Coddenham ward, said: “I accept these have to go somewhere but we do not want these happening all over Suffolk, after all we have already got military bases all over Suffolk. If these things are going to be put forward we should have been consulted properly.”

Richard Wright, spokesman for NATS, described the new stack as a “pre-waiting room” for the existing stack over Sudbury.

“It is not a primary stack and will only be used occasionally and when needed, in poor weather or at times of peak demand, when the existing stack is full,” he said.

“The floor of the holding stack is 15,000ft so any noise disruption will be minimal. It is difficult to say how many planes will use it and much depends on the future growth of Stansted.”

The holding stack will be one-and-a-half miles wide and two to three miles long. Mr Wright added that a consultation of about 60 different councils in the area had taken place between November 2002 and July last year.

Kenneth Musgrave, district councillor for Framlingham, said: “I have no knowledge whatsoever about an intended flight path. I do not know the numbers of aircraft that will be involved or how often they will be stacked but obviously it is something you would expect to give an opinion on.

“People will be concerned to know the facts so they can offer an opinion on it, especially as people move here because it is a particularly attractive and fairly tranquil part of Suffolk.”

John Leggett, district councillor for the Witnesham ward, said: “Whether these new arrangements will make matters worse I do not know. I believe that people in Dedham Vale did not complain until it happened and I think it will happen much the same here.”

Ken Blowers, East Anglian Daily Times aviation expert, said: “There is going to be quite a large area affected near to the new holding stack.

“At some times people will hear the drone of aircraft overhead if the planes are flying at 15,000ft. In a holding stack they will circle round and round the oval until they are cleared to land.”

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