Bid to alter flightpaths

PUBLISHED: 17:09 10 May 2007 | UPDATED: 10:21 31 May 2010

Stansted Airport’s existing runway

Stansted Airport’s existing runway

CHANGES to flightpaths to deal with busier skies of the future could affect tens of thousands of homes. NATS, provider of air traffic control services, is drawing together a proposal for changes to the airspace north of London, which will cover both Stans

CHANGES to flightpaths to deal with busier skies of the future could affect tens of thousands of homes.

NATS, provider of air traffic control services, is drawing together a proposal for changes to the airspace north of London, which will cover both Stansted and Luton airports.

NATS has said its plan is in its early stages and is months away from a design fit for consultation.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN Clearskies, a voluntary organisation dedicated to campaigning on behalf of those who suffer because of aircraft flightpaths, said: "There is no doubt that many people will find themselves under a busy flightpath for the first time as a result of these changes.

"If it was a new motorway, there would be a full public inquiry. Because it is a flightpath, there is only three months' consultation. That is just not acceptable. A lot of people will be very angry."

Jane Johnston, head of external communications for NATS, said: "At the heart of our redesign work is provision for continuous descent approaches, a procedure pioneered by NATS that considerably reduces the noise impact on people living below flightpaths, and more efficient use of the airspace to minimise delay and therefore fuel burn and emissions.

"Terminal Control North, airspace north of London, does not include the Heathrow stacks and will not lead to an expansion in the total landmass over flown."

She said: "We are not seeking to avoid a wide public debate on runways. NATS manages airspace, not airport expansion. We are planning for the safe management of busier skies, but we are not responsible for the airports policy that drives this.

"The south east of England is already the most complex area of airspace in the world and NATS' responsibility is to manage it safely and efficiently, meeting the needs of all users.

"We do not yet have a timetable for this consultation although we hope to have a proposal on which to consult, towards the end of this year."

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, the industry's regulator, said it was not involved in the work but if NATS wished to proceed they would need to undertake a full consultation.

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