15th September 2014
New flight path proposal does not give local residents a fair balance of benefits
Stop Stansted Expansion (‘SSE’) urged caution when NATS first proposed major operational changes to Stansted flight paths in June. We said there must be clear and compelling benefits for local residents before any changes were implemented. It has now become clear that there would not be any net benefit for local residents in terms of reducing the overall noise impact of aircraft departing from Stansted.
If this proposed change to flight paths were to be implemented, daytime flights from the existing south-east (Dover) departure routes would switch to the existing east (Clacton) departure routes. This would double the number of daytime flights on the Clacton route and quadruple the number if Stansted were to expand to its maximum permitted capacity. More people would be overflown more intensively on the Clacton route (2,400) compared to those who would benefit from reduced flights on the Dover route (1,470). And people living under the Dover route would not benefit from any reduction of overflying at night.
The NATS proposal would also intensify air traffic in the proximity of Hatfield Forest, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the UK’s best remaining example of a medieval royal hunting forest. Hatfield Forest currently has over 400,000 visitors a year.
Significant changes to Stansted’s airspace are likely to come in the next airspace review phase scheduled for 2018/19. Additionally the Government is expected to decide next year on a further runway in the South East. These developments are anticipated to involve a significant redesign of Stansted routes for which no information has been made available and this present proposal cannot be assessed in the context of this subsequent significant redesign.
The Government says that noise is the primary concern for local communities near airports and that the benefits of noise reduction should be shared between the aviation industry and local communities. There are always winners and losers when flight paths are changed but this particular proposal would overall have an adverse noise impact upon the local community living within 20 miles of the airport.
SSE Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “SSE is not convinced that this NATS proposal strikes a fair balance of noise reduction benefits for local communities near Stansted. We have therefore recommended that the proposed changes should – at the very least – be postponed until they can be assessed in the context of the much more significant airspace redesign planned for 2018/19.”
NATS Departure Route Proposal at London Stansted Airport Consultation can be viewed here.
While the proposal claims to reduce CO2 emissions, SSE has calculated that the reduction in CO2 emissions is negligible, being less than 1% compared with the total annual CO2 emissions for all aircraft operating at Stansted. NATS also claims that the proposal would reduce delays at Stansted and other airports, but SSE says these delays are also negligible according to NATS separately published figures.
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