Controversial Edinburgh flight plans halted

Plans to expand the flight paths for Edinburgh Airport have been halted.
Plans to expand the flight paths for Edinburgh Airport have been halted.

A controversial review of proposed changes to Edinburgh Airport’s flight paths has been halted.

The airport had said the changes were necessary to cope with increasing numbers of passengers but local campaigners raised concerns about increased noise and the impact on communities.

The Civil Aviation Authority has announced it has decided “not to continue its review into Stage 5 of the Airspace Change Process”.

“Our reasons for this decision largely relates to technical aspects of the proposal and this has been fully explained to the airport,” said the CAA statement.

“If and when these issues are addressed, Edinburgh Airport will be free to resubmit their proposal.”

Last month the airport, which insisted its proposals worked and were the “best balance achievable,” said it had modified its plans following the latest public consultation.

Almost 4,000 people responded to a second public consultation proposal.

Responding to the CAA’s decision, a spokesman for Edinburgh airport said: “Scotland’s first airspace change programme in over 40 years is a complex exercise involving many organisations.

“Our airspace change programme is the first of many and it is clear that all of this needs to be co-ordinated with NATS (National Air Traffic Services).

“We’re clear that our proposal is the best balance achievable in terms of surrounding communities and our operation, and works for Edinburgh and Scotland.

“We’ll be working with NATS on the co-ordination issues to allow the CAA to restart its analysis so we can develop the airport for the future.”

Campaign group Edinburgh Airport Watch welcomed the CAA’s decision, saying the proposals “enjoyed very little support in communities”.

“The airport never needed all these flight paths, they operate fewer take-offs and landings today than 10 years ago.

“We must also remember the tens of thousands of people who continue to suffer daily noise abuse from Edinburgh Airport.

“The airport cannot continue to ignore the plight of all these people in their homes and we call on them to learn from their past mistakes, and start a proper, meaningful and respectful dialogue with communities that leads to substantial improvements.”

Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Mark Ruskell also welcomed the news, saying the plans had been “arrogantly rushed through by Edinburgh Airport and the result has been flaws at every stage of the consultation.”

“Now we learn that even the technical aspects of the proposal were not up to scratch, and we’re pleased to see the CAA taking their duty as regulators seriously and putting a holt to these plans,” he commented.

“This is only a temporary reprieve for local communities though, as the airport can still re-submit their application.

We think there needs to be a halt to unfettered airport expansion whilst we seriously consider Scotland’s connectivity needs. The airport has said they are looking to increase peak time capacity, when many of the flights leaving are to London or other parts of the UK. Proper investment in rail could easily meet this demand without sacrificing the health and wellbeing of local communities.”

Further detail on the reasons behind the CAA’s decision is due to be published next week.