THE Scottish Government is to ask Edinburgh Airport to cut short its controversial flight path trial.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay will write to the airport asking it to truncate the six-month trial so residents badly affected by noise will not have to suffer the effects until Christmas Eve, as currently planned.
Speaking during yesterday’s Holyrood debate on the new flight path over West Lothian, Mr Mackay also said the lack of consultation by the airport, while permitted by Civil Aviation Authority regulations, had not been acceptable.
While he praised the airport’s economic success, he said: “I say of course there should be such consultation. Edinburgh Airport’s own briefing states, ‘We understand that noise can have a detrimental impact and this trial is an imposition on people who did not buy a house under a flight path’.
“That point is very important and the airport should reflect on it when it makes decisions.”
He added: “I will absolutely write to Edinburgh Airport to ask that the trial period, once it has the evidence it believes it needs to inform its decision, is as short as it can be. I hope they bring the trial to a close as quickly as possible.”
Lothians Conservative MSP Gavin Brown said there was no “legal or regulatory requirement” to trial the new flight path for the full six months.
The trial, which sees planes take off every minute at early morning peak times and fly west over Broxburn, Uphall, Dechmont and Linlithgow, has provoked outrage among residents.
Campaigners of Seat (Stop Edinburgh Airpath Trial) launched a petition against the trial and have won the support of cross-party Lothian MSPs, including Labour’s Neil Findlay who yesterday led the debate.
He said: “The CAA guidance says there’s no need to consult – it’s completely unacceptable they don’t see the need to engage with the public and that [airport owner] Global Investment Partners fails to recognise its obligations to the community.
“It’s that approach which has angered people most. Corporations ride roughshod over people and think no-one will care.”
Mr Findlay, along with Green MSP Alison Johnstone, questioned the business case for a new flight path, and suggested the move was part of GIP’s plan to “fatten up” the airport for sale.
Seat campaigner George Woods said: “We are pleased that the Transport Minister wants to see the trial shortened because the impact it is having on many residents is terrible.”
An airport spokesman said: “We note Mr Mackay’s concerns and welcome his feedback and that from the community. We need to determine if the route is technically viable and that needs to allow enough time to gather meaningful data.”
He added: “GIP is an extremely supportive owner of Edinburgh Airport and has invested a large amount of money in creating an airport that can satisfy demand for more flights to and from Edinburgh.”