Controversial flight path plans at Edinburgh Airport stalled after aviation watchdog ruling (From HeraldScotland)

PLANS for controversial new flight paths at Scotland’s busiest airport have stalled after a ruling by the aviation watchdog

Edinburgh Airport wants to increase capacity by allowing planes to land and take off using a wider variety of routes.

The changes could impact on 300,000 people living in Falkirk, West Lothian and Fife who are currently not affected by the airport.

Noise concerns accounted for nearly half of the 7,193 negative responses to the Airspace Change Programme report.

Edinburgh Airport, which is owned and operated by Global Infrastructure Partners says it needs to invest in new flight paths to meet growing demand.

A network of new routes is being proposed over West Lothian and Fife, to the fury of local residents and they launched a public consultation to the plans.

But a series of public meeting saw hundreds of people turn up to complain about the proposals .

Airport representatives have also been fiercely criticised for failing to give clear answers to questions.

Lothians Labour MP Neil Findlay wrote to the Civil Aviation Authority earlier this year asking for them to scrap the process and yesterday he received a letter back from Will Nathan, Head of Stakeholder Management at the CAA.

He wrote: “I’m writing to let you know that the CAA has informed Edinburgh Airport today that we will not be continuing with Stage five of the Airspace Change Process (ACP) following the airport’s formal application on August 4.

“This is the stage during which our regulators review the submission in its entirety, and ultimately make a decision as to whether the change can be implemented.

“There are a number of reasons why we have come to this decision. Most of these relate to technical aspects of the proposal, as well as a delay in receiving elements of the submission.

“I know a lot of your constituents have raised their concerns about the consultation process.

“I have to emphasise that our decision does not reflect concerns about the consultation, as we had not completed our review of the consultation when the aforementioned technical concerns came to light.

“I also need to be clear that Edinburgh Airport is free to re-submit its proposal once the technical issues we outline in the letter have been resolved.”

Mr Findlay said: “From the outset this has been a flawed set of proposals.

“The communities who would be affected have said this from day one. Now the CAA appears to have agreed.

“Edinburgh airports plans are unnecessary and the consultation process has been shambolic.

“They should withdraw their plans once and for all and get on with building good relations with communities impacted by their business.”

Edinburgh Airport launched its Airspace Change Programme last year with a view to modernising its flight paths amid forecasts of continuing passenger growth at the base.

It held an initial consultation on the proposals, the biggest of its kind by a UK airport, from June 6 to September 19 last year.

The largest number of public responses was received from people in West Lothian, closely followed by residents in Edinburgh, with 1,659 responses.

Just over half (51 per cent) of replies from people in the city were classed as negative, while 22 per cent were positive and 27 per cent were neutral.

Among the top “themes” identified were noise concerns and local pollution and environmental issues. The airport says it will use the public’s views to shape its plans.

They accuse the airport of downplaying the noise and disruption that would be caused by the proposed new routes.

An airport spokesman said: “Scotland’s first airspace change programme in over 40 years is a complex exercise involving many organisations.

“Our ACP is the first of many and it is clear that all of this needs to be co-ordinated with NATS.

“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.”

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