Revised holding stack plans for Cambs due in the summer

A NEW report into the remapping of flight patterns in south-east England is expected to be ready for consultation this summer – but the details are being kept under wraps until then. NATS, the air traffic management company, said this week it was working

A NEW report into the remapping of flight patterns in south-east England is expected to be ready for consultation this summer - but the details are being kept under wraps until then.

NATS, the air traffic management company, said this week it was working on revised proposals.

The original proposals, which were consulted on last year and produced more than 15,000 responses, included a scheme which would have placed more planes in the skies over Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire.

The NATSs scheme would have shifted Luton Airport's arrivals path and holding pattern north from its current location above the Royston area.

Flights heading for Luton would then have been allowed to join a new hold area in Cambridgeshire using surrounding airspace, including over towns such as Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots. The hold area would have been over villages such as Papworth, Cambourne, Hilton, and Yelling, skirting the A14 on its northern fringe.

The scheme caused concern among many people. The location of the Luton hold - as well as the new locations for Stansted and London City holds - received some of the highest number of objections.

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In its initial feedback report, NATS said holds at the three airports were one of the key areas where further options are being considered.

However, those options will not be available for consideration until August at the earliest.

NATS said its revised airspace design is still being "formulated, tested in simulation and assessed for safety, efficiency and impact on populations".

Director of operations, Ian Hall, said: "In some areas we hope to present an alternative route for consideration, to allow a degree of choice for those in the area affected.

"We are also looking in detail at the precise positions of the holds in the original consultation and whether it is possible to include an alternative option.

"Many people were concerned that the original proposal was 'a done deal' and that NATS would not listen to objections. We have been clear that this was a genuine consultation and that we would listen to the views expressed. This second consultation demonstrates that we did listen, we have taken note and where possible options will be included for consideration."

He added: "We are also very clear that doing nothing is not an option and that the number of options available to us is extremely limited in this airspace, which is some of the most congested in the world.

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