Plane stack protesters claim first 'victory'

CAMPAIGNERS battling to stop aeroplanes being stacked above their homes while waiting to land at Luton Airport are claiming first blood. The National Air Traffic Service (NATS) has bowed to demands from residents and councillors by giving people an extr

CAMPAIGNERS battling to stop aeroplanes being 'stacked' above their homes while waiting to land at Luton Airport are claiming first blood.

The National Air Traffic Service (NATS) has bowed to demands from residents and councillors by giving people an extra month to voice their objections.

The consultation period, which began on February 21, had been due to end on May 22, but will now close on June 19.

Jonathan Astill, head of airspace management at NATS, said: "We have listened to those people who have said there was not enough time for them to consider the details of these proposals and therefore decided to extend the consultation period.


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"It is important that everyone who has a view on the proposals has a chance to make those views known and this four-week extension will enable them to do so."

NATS wants to change the holding patterns for Stansted and Luton Airports, moving the 'stacks' to areas it believes will have less impact on people living below.

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One of the Luton stacks is proposed to sit above villages such as Hilton, Cambourne and The Gransdens and some villagers believe it may affect their tranquillity.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said he was 'very pleased' that the consultation period has been extended, a view mirrored by Sue Chase, from campaign group RuralPeace, who said: "Many people are still unaware of the proposals. It is very important for people to use this extra time to find out as much information as possible."

Despite the extended deadline, both Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire District Councils will lodge further objections to the proposals, which are the biggest shake-up of airspace management in several decades.

HDC says it has objections to the plans because of the noise impact on its villages and that NATS has failed to take account of the latest population figures.

SCDC has taken a harder line, listing 12 criticisms of the proposals. Sebastian Kindersley, councillor for Gamlingay, said: "I am delighted that NATS has recognised that its consultation process is flawed and the extension is a minor victory.

"Now we need them to respond to the specific points we have identified, such as what alternative solutions have been considered. There are still a lot of questions to be answered."

Mrs Chase added: "We welcome the stance being taken by SCDC, which mirrors the strong concerns of local residents."

INFORMATION: View the proposals at www.nats.consultation.co.uk or visit RuralPeace at www.ruralpeace.org.uk

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