Informed debate first before taking sides

HAVING read the The Hunts Post (February 27) and studied the NATS website about the proposed changes to holding patterns for arrivals into Luton, I hope that there will be a robust and reasoned debate on this matter, because it affects a considerable numb

HAVING read the The Hunts Post (February 27) and studied the NATS website about the proposed changes to holding patterns for arrivals into Luton, I hope that there will be a robust and reasoned debate on this matter, because it affects a considerable number of people in the area.

What concerns me is that there will be an outburst of sensationalist propaganda, half-truths and, in some cases, absolute untruths peddled in the media, similar to the furore over the re-start of flying at Alconbury. This, regrettably, included a frankly inaccurate photo-montage in your paper.*

Your article made several points and your editorial already supports those who will oppose it, but I believe that the population should be aware of the following to allow them to come to an informed decision either way.

There is already a considerable amount of aircraft movement over the area. The RAF training aircraft, the police helicopter and the air ambulance based at RAF Wyton; light aircraft based at Bourne, Gransden and Peterborough Conington; aircraft arriving and departing from Cambridge airport; low-flying military aircraft and helicopters; higher-flying civilian traffic; higher-flying military transport and tanker aircraft, some of which originate from RAF Mildenhall and their tracks may have to be moved to avoid confliction with the stack. This will move some of the current noise away from the area.


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So on balance we may not suffer much more noise than we already do.

The stack would be used only at times of congestion. No airline or air traffic control organisation wants to use a stack as a routine operation because it burns extra fuel and causes delays.

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There are times when I have flown into London Heathrow, which has a far higher traffic level than Luton, when the aircraft has been placed in the stack and others when it has made a direct approach into the airfield. So the stack will not be in constant use.

According to the NATS document, the outline of the stack is the maximum extent of where aircraft will fly: normally the stack will use a smaller circuit.

Please note that the aircraft using the stack will follow the racetrack pattern at whatever the size to maintain aircraft separation for safety reasons. They will not be circling over Godmanchester, the Hemingfords, Hilton and part of St Neots like birds of prey, but may pass over them as part of their overall circuit.

The current figure of 8.3 aircraft per hour means that there would be one aircraft every 7.23 minutes when the stack is in use between 6am and 11pm. This would rise to one every 4.6 minutes by 2014. Even this is a far cry from the "constant parade" of aircraft that I can hear being put forward as an opposition argument. Please note that Heathrow at peak times handles an arrival every 45 seconds.

Between 11pm and 6am there would be one aircraft every 54.5 minutes currently and one every 33.3 minutes by 2014. But at that traffic density the stack is unlikely to be needed.

Also, 20 years ago, we had two very active military airfields in the immediate area that produced a constant stream of very noisy aircraft. Since their closure Huntingdon has seen a reduced level of aircraft noise and I do not believe that the current proposals are going to increase the aircraft noise over the area to anything like those levels.

Perhaps a public meeting where all parties can present their views to the population would be constructive to the informed debate.

PETER JEFFERIES

Othello Close

Hartford

* Editor's note: The picture Mr Jefferies refers to - about five years ago - was for illustrative purposes only. It was never intended as an accurate prediction of a possible future use of the Alconbury site.

I WONDER whether the aircraft stacking plan (The Hunts Post, February 27) transcends political boundaries.

Surely, even without this extra noise, the residents of Eaton Socon and those villages that span the A1 in this area suffer more decibel damage than would be allowed in other European countries, such as Holland and Germany where long before now soundproof barriers would have been erected.

J RICHARDSON

Kings Road

Eaton Socon

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