NEARLY two-thirds of Capital residents who took part in a consultation on plans for new flight paths around Edinburgh Airport have criticised the proposals.
Main objections expressed in nearly 800 responses include concerns over noise, routes and operational issues such as flight planning.
In all, nearly 4,000 responses were collected from people living in Edinburgh, the Lothians and other areas of Scotland, with more than half (52 per cent) coming back negative.
Of the 3,921 respondents, more than one in four (28 per cent) were positive and one in five (20 per cent) neutral.
The 14-week process encountered hitches along the way, with the wrong Freepost address for responses published on the airport’s website, prompting a deadline extension to July 31.
Airport chiefs say new flight paths are necessary to accommodate record numbers of passengers while opponents have questioned the need for the plans.
Members of Edinburgh Airport Watch said the plans would have “serious and permanent” consequences for residents, schools and businesses.
And they questioned whether findings could be relied upon from an “unfit” consultation process.
“A staggering 52 per cent of responders rejected the proposals, yet astonishingly, the airport maintains it will press ahead with further changes to the airspace,” said group member Helena Paul. “This is simply not acceptable to communities who continue to dispute that these changes are necessary or justified.”
Campaigners say that although passenger numbers are up – to over 12 million last year – flights are down from a 2007 peak because bigger planes are used. They also label environmental assessments “completely flawed” and based on inaccurate data.
Edinburgh Airport bosses said their understanding of residents’ concerns had been boosted significantly by the consultation. “We have actively listened and had those discussions – full-blooded at times – to gain a greater understanding of the public’s view on these proposals,” said chief executive Gordon Dewar.
“We acknowledge that some mistakes have been made and they have been embarrassing for us, but we have learned from and rectified them.
“However, we are confident that they did not impair the overall completeness of the consultation; we have been open in identifying them and tenacious in our attempts to fix them.
“I want to personally thank everyone who has engaged with and taken an interest in our Airspace Change Programme. It has enriched our understanding of your concerns and opinions about the options we set out, and I assure you that we have listened to you and your views loud and clear.”
He said the feedback would now help shape final proposals which will be presented to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) later this summer.
A final decision by the CAA on the proposed flight paths is expected at the end of the year and, if approved, the new routes could be in place by April 2018.