Edinburgh Airport flight path trial hailed despite complaints

Protesters outside the Scottish Parliament. File picture: Lisa Ferguson
Protesters outside the Scottish Parliament. File picture: Lisa Ferguson
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EDINBURGH Airport has hailed its controversial trial of a new flight path a “success” - despite receiving thousands of complaints from residents living beneath the route.

A report published today detailed the findings from last year’s exercise, which saw some flights directed over Broxburn, Uphall, Dechmont and Blackness.

The majority of complaints received during the trial period came from a relatively small number of people who live in pockets of communities in West Lothian.

Edinburgh Airport

The trial, which ended two months early following a barrage of complaints, was launched as the airport sought to find a way to get planes off the ground every minute at peak times, rather than every two minutes.

Today airport bosses said one minute separation times of departing flights could relieve aircraft congestion and make the runway more efficient.

But they admitted they experienced a peak in complaints during the trial period, with 7,934 objections from 567 individuals.

They said analysis showed that over 57 per cent of these complaints were not about trial flights but were instead about aircraft operating on flight paths that have existed since the runway was built in the mid-1970s.

Meanwhile, a large percentage of complaints came from the same people - with 40 per cent of all complaints coming from five individuals.

An airport spokesman said: “The report published today shows the viability of one minute separation times between departing aircraft from Edinburgh Airport during our peak periods – this presents a great opportunity for us to meet the demands of Scotland’s growing international reputation and will enable us to create more jobs and help grow the economy.

“While the trial was a success – there is still work to do both technically and with our neighbouring communities.

“We will continue to work very closely with NATS to address the anomalies which will enable us to meet the demand that comes with running Scotland’s busiest airport.

“The majority of complaints received during the trial period came from a relatively small number of people who live in pockets of communities in West Lothian.

“While the majority of these complaints did not relate to flights on the TUTUR flight path - we take our neighbours’ concerns seriously.

“Our decision on TUTUR will be not be taken hastily. The trial has allowed us to collect data to inform that decision and should we decide to progress for a permanent change we shall have two three-month periods of full consultation, an environmental impact assessment and further rigorous tests.

“All options will be considered and views listened to before we come to our decision later in the year.

“The fact that the majority of complaints during the trial were not about flights on the TUTUR flight path and were in fact about existing flight paths gives us food for thought about the benefit of a potential full consultation - with people in Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife - on modernising all of our airspace to enable growth with minimal disruption.

“We care greatly about our local standing as we are local ourselves - the vast majority of the people who benefit from the 8000 jobs that Edinburgh Airport supports live within 20 miles of the airport.

“To this end we have implemented a new noise complaints policy, created an arrivals and departures guide to further explain procedures in place at Edinburgh Airport, met with Community Councils in areas affected to understand local concerns and we will be proactively updating our five year Noise Action Plan and reviewing the way we monitor and mitigate noise from our operations.”