Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Noise concern over Edinburgh Airport flight path changes

Edinburgh Airport Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The airport says the changes are necessary to cope with growing numbers of passengers

Almost 4,000 people have responded to a second public consultation on Edinburgh Airport's proposals to change its flight paths.

Concern about increased noise remains the single biggest issue for respondents, followed by the impact on communities and the environment.

More than half of all respondents said they disagreed with the proposals.

Edinburgh Airport says the changes are necessary to cope with increasing numbers of passengers.

But some residents have argued they have already been affected by noise pollution from changes in the flight paths and have accused the airport of pushing ahead with expansion without considering other ways to increase capacity.

Campaign Group Edinburgh Airport Watch said the report was an "overwhelming thumbs down" for the proposals.

The group has also questioned why the airport had chosen not to publish the responses it received in full and criticised the way the data was gathered.

The results of the first consultation were published in November.

The airport's chief executive, Gordon Dewar, said the modernisation of the airspace to cope with growing numbers of passengers had to be balanced with the impact on local communities.

"We have actively listened and had those discussions - full-blooded at times - to gain a greater understanding of the public's view on these proposals, which was the key aim from this second consultation," he said.

"We now have these views and will carefully consider them as we shape our final proposals to the CAA later this summer."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Residents living close to the airport say they are concerned by the increased levels of noise

Mr Dewar also acknowledged that "embarrassing" mistakes had been made during the consultation process, referring to the loss of almost 200 of the public's responses during the initial consultation.

He added: "I want to personally thank everyone who has engaged with and taken an interest in our Airspace Change Programme - it has enriched our understanding of your concerns and opinions about the options we set out, and I assure you that we have listened to you and your views loud and clear."

Of the 3,921 individual respondents to the second consultation, 52% of people said they disagreed with the airport's proposals, whereas 28% said they agreed and 20% were neutral.

There were 4,048 negative comments about the impact of noise and 2,412 negative comments about the consultation itself.

But according to the the report, 1,777 people said they believed the new flight paths would have "minimal population impact".

'Unfit process'

The Ineos plant at Grangemouth expressed a concern that flights over the refinery could be a safety risk.

The plant's objection, quoted in the report, says: "Our concern is that no flights go over the Ineos Grangemouth Petrochemical site. We have a duty under the COMAH [Control of Major Accident Hazards] Regulations 2015 to minimise risk from our site."

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport Watch said Edinburgh Airport had "repeatedly failed" to review the quality of its consultation material before publication and had now admitted making "multiple errors".

"We question whether the findings derived from such an unfit process can be relied upon, and again we find some of the methods the airport has used to present the data disappointingly misleading," he said.

"A staggering 52% of responders rejected the proposals, yet astonishingly, the airport maintains it will press ahead with further changes to the airspace.

"This is simply not acceptable to communities who continue to dispute that these changes are necessary or justified."

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said he could not see how Edinburgh Airport could justify implementing any of the new flight paths while still claiming to have listened to the public.

He added: "Concerns over noise, air pollution and wildlife were top of peoples' complaints - these are issues which affect us all and shifting a line on a map is not going to change this."

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