MP: Fife flight path consultation is “flawed”

A Fife MP has written to air regulators to convince them a consultation for a new Fife flight path was “flawed from day one”.

The move follows a recent meeting between Lesley Laird and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) representatives to discuss Edinburgh Airport’s Airspace change proposal for flight path E7a.

The altered flight path has sparked anger among affected communities, which include Aberdour, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay and North Queensferry.

Lesley said: “At the meeting with the CAA I learned that the airport’s consultation has to abide by rules known as ‘The Gunning Principles.’

“These include the need for the airport to suggest ideas, retain an open mind, and consider feedback before making a final decision.

“It’s clear to me that the E7a consultation failed to meet that test requirement and I’ve written to the CAA outlining the reasons why.”

She added: “This is Edinburgh Airport’s third proposal for this flight path area and, despite previous calls from Aberdour Community asking for flights to track along the Forth, this latest proposal brings jets closer to residential areas than ever before.

“That clearly suggests airport planners are not listening and have already made a decision – with commercial reasons driving it.”

Edinburgh Airport held a public meeting in Inverkeithing during the consultation – organised only after Lesley’s request – during which angry residents said noise from jet aircraft would make their lives a misery.

After pressure from the MP, the airport agreed to extend the month-long consultation by one week – but no longer.

“The Gunning principles also state that affected residents should be given enough time to digest clear information in order to submit an informed opinion,” said Lesley.

“Feedback at that meeting and complaints to my office repeatedly flagged up that content in the consultation documents was woefully short on details – such as flight heights  – and hadn’t been distributed widely enough in any case.

“In addition, facebook and drop in sessions arranged during the consultation were poorly advertised.”

She concluded: “It just seems like this consultation was designed as an after-thought, with no clarity, no structure and little substance, giving communities no chance to fully understand what was being proposed.

“It’s impossible to see, by any stretch of the imagination, how Edinburgh Airport has satisfied the guidelines of what constitutes a fair consultation process.

“I think this consultation was flawed from day one and I would urge the CAA to take cognisance of the issues I’ve raised before reaching a conclusion.”