Edinburgh Airport flight path plan rejected by watchdog

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Airplane in flightImage source, Thinkstock

A controversial plan to change a flight path at Edinburgh Airport has been rejected by the aviation watchdog.

The proposed changes would have seen aircraft flying to the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth.

The Civil Aviation Authority said it could not approve the proposal due to "significant" differences between the final plan and the version developed in consultation with local communities.

The airport said modernising the airspace was necessary for growth.

An Edinburgh Airport spokesman said it was disappointed with the CAA's decision, adding it would restart the consultation process with a view to delivering the changes as soon as possible.

Locals opposed to the plan said they were "highly relieved" by the decision.

It was the second set of plans submitted to the CAA after the industry regulator told Edinburgh Airport to do more work on the original proposal.

Edinburgh Airport said the airport's airspace was designed in the 1970s when it had about one million passengers per year - it now deals with 13.4 million passengers per year with flights to more than 150 destinations.

Helena Paul, of Edinburgh Airport Watch, said: "On behalf of communities affected by these damaging proposals we are highly relieved the CAA have looked carefully and agreed the process was fatally flawed and could not be allowed to stand.

"Our hope now is the regulator does not allow Edinburgh Airport to continue using an outdated set of rules for any future consultations and instead enforces the new set of rules brought in for any consultations on new flight paths."

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman, said: "When considering proposals to change the design of UK airspace, the CAA decides whether or not the 'change sponsor' (in this case Edinburgh Airport) has acted reasonably in meeting the needs of those affected, including local communities.

"The airport has, in many respects, engaged extensively with communities during the consultation process.

"However, the differences between the proposal developed in consultation with local communities and the final proposal submitted to the CAA are too significant. Therefore, the CAA will not approve the proposal."

Air travel growth

Gordon Robertson, Edinburgh Airport's director of communications, said: "We are disappointed with the CAA's decision as we believe that it is important that airspace change is addressed for Scotland, allowing the country to continue to benefit from growth in air travel.

"We note the CAA has based its decision on a view that we submitted a proposal which does not accord with the material that was provided to stakeholders in consultation, which in the CAA's opinion could have made people respond differently to the questions asked.

"Specifically, the CAA has noted that by the time the proposal was made, there had been further amendments to the projected levels of traffic for some of the routes that meant further consultation was necessary.

"Although we believe that we have gone above and beyond the required procedures to ensure that we have fully consulted with and involved our communities, we accept the decision and will recommence the consultation process and undertake the necessary work to support this."

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