Harpenden aviation expert calls for independent review of Luton Airport’s flight path changes

An aerial view of St Albans city centre as seen from an easyjet flight from Luton airport to Amsterd

An aerial view of St Albans city centre as seen from an easyjet flight from Luton airport to Amsterdam, Netherlands in October 2015. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans woman who claims she feels “like a zombie” after Luton Airport changed its flight paths has voiced concerns about the increased stream of planes “flying over our historic city”.

Joanne Pearce-Westrop is just one of many residents to contact the Herts Advertiser about the “blight of the plague of aeroplanes flying overhead and flying low, making far more noise, [being] far more in number and flying constantly through the night as well as the day.”

She said: “Even my sleep patterns are affected and I am a zombie at the moment.”

Joanne said that she was speaking on behalf of several households throughout the district, including her “disabled mother aged 88, my disabled daughter, my son, my 90-plus-year-old uncle and my aunt who is over 80, not to mention my brother’s residence near Sandridge.

“We all live in separate houses around the historic city, many of us born and bred here, and my elderly relatives are not connected to the internet, so I feel I have to make as much ‘noise’ as I can about the issue, for their sakes as well as my own.”

She has complained to St Albans MP Anne Main, the Civil Aviation Authority and Luton Airport itself.

Joanne said that it was, “unacceptable for there to be flights every three minutes at night. Bedfordshire isn’t affected, so why can’t they go another way, over Luton? They seem to be flying wherever they like. They should be aware of the historic significance of this area.”

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Martin Keeping of Harpenden, an aviation expert with 30 years’ experience, said route changes were also affecting people in the town.

He said he was ‘convinced’ that flight path changes introduced a year ago were, “to do with cost-saving, because you don’t have to maintain as many beacons because of the introduction of RNAV, using GPS based aircraft navigation.

“Air traffic controllers are dealing with more aeroplanes, but working with a smaller area.”

He singled out low-cost airline Wizz Air for particularly affecting residents in Herts, because of their noisier engines.

Martin said: “Planes are flying the route they have to fly; that has been issued to them by [air traffic controllers] NATS, but it’s not a good route to use, even though it’s more concentrated for them. The sudden route change, and the aircrafts’ altitude are affecting a whole new group of people.

“Having planes fly a narrower swathe isn’t working. They used to go further north than the current route. They should return to the original route.

“There should be an independent organisation which is analysing this, and all the details – such as who approved it, and what due diligence took place.”

Martin added: “It’s a local council airport [owned by Luton borough council]. They should be far more receptive and accommodating to local residents. They are the ones being paid, and if they are further increasing capacity, they need to answer some questions.”

To lodge a complaint about plane noise, go to: http://www.london-luton.co.uk/corporate/community/noise/talking-to-lla/making-a-noise-complaint