Councillors snub Edinburgh Airport flight path consultation

Just 1% of councillors contacted over controversial plans to alter flight paths above Scotland's busiest airport responded to a consultation on the issue, a new publication shows.
Edinburgh Airport flight paths are being altered. Picture: Ian GeorgesonEdinburgh Airport flight paths are being altered. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh Airport flight paths are being altered. Picture: Ian Georgeson

An Edinburgh Airport report shows it contacted 334 councillors in Scotland’s central belt and the Borders about its airspace change programme (ACP) but only three responded to the call for views.

All of Scotland’s 129 MSPs and 59 MPs were also contacted during the consultation on the proposals, with 11 (6%) replying.

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Airport bosses said those whose constituencies are directly affected by the plans did respond.

The report also maps out responses from members of the public to the proposals from area to area, with concerns about noise and pollution among the issues raised by people.

They ranged from West Lothian - where 71% of the 1,823 responses received were negative about the plans - to Midlothian, where negative responses accounted for less than half (45%) of the 222 replies sent in.

Edinburgh Airport launched its ACP earlier this year with a view to modernising its flight paths amid forecasts of continuing passenger growth at the base.

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It held an initial consultation on the proposals, the biggest of its kind by a UK airport, from June 6 to September 19 and published a report on those findings on Friday.

Overall, 5,880 responses were submitted - 89 from organisations and elected officials and 5,791 from individuals.

The report notes that airport officials contacted 226 community councils, of which 33, or 15%, responded to the consultation.

More than 900 stakeholder organisations were also contacted, with 34 (4%) replying.

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It is understood councillors in Fife, Falkirk, Edinburgh, the Lothians, Borders and South Lanarkshire were contacted and that some may have responded as individuals, not in their council role.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said they have had a lot of dialogue with politicians.

He stressed it is a two-stage consultation process, with views to be sought on further more detailed options from January onwards.

The largest number of public responses was received from people in West Lothian, closely followed by residents in Edinburgh, with 1,659 responses.

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Just over half (51%) of replies from people in the city were classed as negative while 22% were positive and 27% were neutral.

Among the top “themes” identified were noise concerns and local pollution and environmental issues.

The airport says it will use the public’s views to shape its plans.

Chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “Meeting and listening to people in our neighbouring communities has been an invaluable exercise for us; we have learned a lot about their hopes and concerns in regards to the growth and development of Edinburgh Airport.

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“We will be presenting our design options - in part guided by the findings of this initial consultation - and beginning a second consultation in early 2017.”