Flight-path protesters plan London rally

PUBLISHED: 14:26 03 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:18 06 May 2010

VILLAGE campaigners are planning to attend a rally in London over proposals to change aeroplane flight paths across the south east. The rally on Thursday, June 19, will march on the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) head office and has been organised t

VILLAGE campaigners are planning to attend a rally in London over proposals to change aeroplane flight paths across the south east.

The rally on Thursday, June 19, will march on the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) head office and has been organised to coincide with the end of the consultation.

It is expected to draw together hundreds of people from towns and villages all over the south east who believe they will be adversely affected by the proposed changes in the NATS document.

One of the most controversial changes as far as the St Albans district is concerned is the proposal for the Compton 08 - Luton Easterly Departures to the South West - flight path.

Aircraft taking off from Luton currently fly in a broad swathe over Wheathampstead, Harpenden and Redbourn resulting in what campaigners describe as, "an acceptable noise burden shared between local communities."

Under the new proposals more than 7,500 planes each year will be funnelled over and around Wheathampstead in what NATS describes as a noise sewer.

Campaigners from Wheathampstead, Markyate, Whitwell and Slip End are intending to join the rally organised by the airport lobby group Airportwatch.

Rick Sanderson, chair of Wheathampstead and District Preservation Society, said: "The logic of flying noisy aircraft in a steady stream over the most beautiful and tranquil parts of our district is entirely flawed.

"Nomansland Common is intensively used, high value amenity space; it is not 'open countryside'. Most of Wheathampstead, Southdown and parts of Redbourn are covered by the proposed flight path and anyone who believes NATS' claims that flights will not be directed over these settlements is being very naïve."

Cllr Judy Shardlow, who represents Wheathampstead on the district council, added: "This demonstration is a chance to show our anger at these ill-conceived proposals. These plans are a nail in the coffin of quality of life in this district if they are allowed to go ahead."

She added: "Wheathampstead already suffers from frequent noisy over flights on the current flight path. To focus all air traffic on this route over us will mean the noise will be unrelenting for Wheathampstead.

"We must all do everything we can to show that this change will destroy areas of amenity which are loved and used by people throughout the district and will seriously impact on a beautiful and peaceful village."

Residents concerned about the proposals can join the march by calling Richard or Julie Bell on 01582 833789. The deadline for objections to NATS proposed changes to the flight path is June 19 and they can be made online at www.consultation.nats or by writing to TCN Consultation, NATS, Freepost NAT22750, Reading RG1 4BR.

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