Flight paths

PUBLISHED: 12:09 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:01 06 May 2010

SIR, — I thought the letter from Cllrs Judy Shardlow and Lisa Hobden regarding the new flight paths (Herts Advertiser, February 28) was not entirely accurate so may I offer some clarification and data to put the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) proposa

SIR, - I thought the letter from Cllrs Judy Shardlow and Lisa Hobden regarding the new flight paths (Herts Advertiser, February 28) was not entirely accurate so may I offer some clarification and data to put the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) proposals into perspective.

At the moment hardly any densely-populated areas are affected by departures from Luton with the possible exception of North Harpenden and the extreme south of Luton. The vast majority of departing aircraft using Noise Preferential Routes over Herts already fly over quiet villages and countryside. The proposals mean that some aircraft will fly over different parts of the quiet countryside. Although most of us in Herts living south of the airport will benefit, some new areas will be affected by aircraft noise.

In 2007 there were around 126,000 Luton aircraft movements. Of these approximately 50,000 were westerly departures using the NPR over Markyate and Flamstead. This quiet area is also overflown by the aircraft using the easterly departure route known as the 08 Compton. It is the 08 Compton to which the councillor refers which departs to the east and then turns to the west currently over North Harpenden. It is this path which is likely to be directed further south over the countryside between Harpenden and St Albans - but to put it into perspective, just 7,000 aircraft out of 126,000 fly this route each year.

The most dramatic change relates to the westerly departures on the 26 Clacton/Dover route which turn east beyond Flamstead and fly south of the airport. It is proposed that these aircraft will follow the westerly departure route towards Tring and then turn 180 degrees to fly north of Luton heading east.

This means that the area just north of St Albans to which Cllr Shardlow refers will no longer be affected by the 26 Clacton/Dover aircraft but will be affected by the 08 Compton heading west. Overall there will be fewer flights over this area but the proposal is likely to have some impact on the Ayots and the edge of Wheathampstead.

Possibly because I live under a Noise Preferential Route I have never believed that any area should be totally free of the impact of airport noise at the expense of another solely for political purpose, and that is the reality of NPRs at Luton. There's nothing like a little aircraft noise to raise awareness and understanding of the impact of airport operations.

NATS say 11,000 people will experience less aircraft noise from operations at Luton Airport, among them the residents of Flamstead. But it's a pity that the new flight paths from Luton were not proposed for social benefit but for even more aviation expansion.

E.J. ALFORD,

Pie Garden, Flamstead.

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