Villagers urged to fight flightpath plan

By Patrick LowmanVILLAGERS are being urged to unite to fight plans to divert jets using Stansted and Luton Airports over their picturesque and rural communities.

By Patrick Lowman

VILLAGERS are being urged to unite to fight plans to divert jets using Stansted and Luton Airports over their picturesque and rural communities.

People living in Boxford, Groton, Edwardstone and Bildeston have been angered by the proposals from the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) to change the flightpaths.

If the plans are implemented, it will increase the number of jets flying across the skies over their tranquil villages.

NATS wants to change the flightpaths to take planes away from the Dedham Vale, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, immortalised by the works of John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.

Under the new proposals, from March more planes would be directed over Ipswich, Boxford and Bildeston.

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A new holding stack, known as LAPRA, would be created over north and east Ipswich and would complement the Abbot holding stack over Sudbury.

Boxford residents are now being urged to turn out for a public meeting being planned for November to vent their anger at NATS officials, who have agreed to attend.

Both South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo and officials at Babergh District Council have supported the move to cut the number of flights over the Dedham Vale, but people living in the Boxford and Bildeston areas felt the plans were unfair and would destroy the peace and tranquillity of their communities.

They were also concerned over the lack of public consultation and discussion over the proposals.

Groton parish clerk, Martin Wood, said: “Most local residents were only alerted to the proposals in an article in the East Anglian Daily Times on July 12.

“It soon became apparent that the deadline for replies to the NATS paper was August 1, an intolerably short-time.

“We are now urging as many people as possible to attend the meeting to show the NATS officials how we feel.

“In the past we have had to put up with planes from the air bases and now we have the helicopters from Wattisham, we just don't want any more intrusion. These plans would destroy our tranquillity forever.

“One of the beauties of living in this area is that when you open your window you can't hear a thing, but that we all change.

Although no exact date has yet been set for the public meeting, officials from NATS have agreed to attend and Suffolk county councillor Jeremy Pembroke will chair the meeting.

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