Edinburgh Airport’s airspace change programme consultation
A response prepared by Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP for Edinburgh Western
As the local Member of the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Western (Elected May 2016) I welcome the opportunity to respond to the public consultation conducted by the airport as to how flights are directed over our community.
I am proud to represent the constituency which plays host to the Airport, itself a significant employer in my constituency and a business success story which has seen year on year growth in recent times. Its existence means that my constituency welcomes millions of foreign and domestic visitors through its doors every year and is well regarded by business travellers and holiday makers alike.
Whilst there is much about the airport that I and my constituents appreciate, there are residual, significant and valid concerns regarding aircraft noise over certain parts of our community.
Areas such as Cramond and to a certain extent Silverknowes and parts of East Craigs, remain in the existing acoustic flight path of both inbound and outbound aircraft (depending on wind direction) and are, as such, exposed to regular intrusive engine noise.
This is a regular source of casework for me as the local MSP and I’m quite certain that this is a source of regular correspondence with the airport itself. The reality is, as the airport has got busier, more of my constituents experience more noise and over a longer period of the day. This consultation provides an opportunity to begin to address this.
Despite attempts by other Lothian MSPs to have the process abandoned entirely I have, since the outset, endeavoured to raise awareness of the consultation and encourage constituents to make representations to the airport. I have had several meetings with community groups and individuals to help shape this response and have collected a petition of over 500 signatures, for the retention and sharpening of the north bound turn before Cramond. These have been sent to the airport in hard copy form in the consultation response which has been submitted by my colleague Kevin Lang and this response should be considered in tandem with Mr Lang’s submission.
In early September, the airport revealed that it had through technical error, lost nearly 200 submissions as part of a coding error. I sympathise with the airport in this regard, applaud its transparency in making this data loss known as quickly as possible and extending the consultation period by a week so that participants could resubmit and have their views considered. I wrote to Edinburgh Airport Chief Executive Gordon Dewar at the time and expressed my concern that without a full restart of the call for written submissions, there was a risk that the process and subsequent decisions taken off the back of the consultation would be open to criticism and doubt from those opposed to those decisions. I still feel that a restart was in the best interests of the airport, but I accept the decision of the airport not to do so.
Outbound flights over Cramond
By far the biggest concern of residents in Cramond is the retention of the instruction to outbound aircraft taking off from runway 6 to bank north on all TALLA and GOSAM1 departures in any flightpath redesign. My office has collected a petition of over 500 signatures from the community in
support of this (submitted in paper copy form separately as mentioned above) and furthermore we would seek this northerly turn to happen sooner after take-off and if possible at a more obtuse angle that the existing 45 degree turn. I understand that existing and emerging navigation and guidance technology should make this possible quite easily. The flight path envelopes shown in the airport’s consultation documents would also suggest that this is operationally feasible. This relatively straightforward change, which would not adversely impact on the airport’s operations, would route aircraft further away from Cramond on departure and significantly help to reduce noise impacts when runway 06 is used for departures.
Inbound flights over Cramond
I support the view of local residents that engine noise disruption to local communities could be reduced with a steeper angle of descent on all flights approaching runway 24 over Cramond. Additionally, the deployment of RNAV navigation technology could potentially make it easier for airplanes to approach Edinburgh from further north, using airspace over the river almond corridor, and then banking towards the runway much nearer to the airport.
Local community groups have also suggested a longer term solution with a small realignment of the runway to enable aircraft an easier approach from the North, avoiding Cramond still further. Whilst I understand this will have significant cost implications, I would welcome the view of the airport on this and whether they have or would be willing to undertake a feasibility study to this end.
Once again, I welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation and hope that those considering responses will agree that these requests are neither unreasonable or impractical.
I look forward to working closely with the airport in the time I am afforded to serve the constituents of Edinburgh Western as their Member of the Scottish Parliament.