Tighter flightpaths mean more noise for some areas
Posted on February 29, 2008
Planned revisions to Luton Airport's flightpaths could reduce aircraft noise for the south east corner of Leighton and some nearby villages.
But there might also be an increase in noise to the north and west of the town.
Plans by the National Air Traffic Services (Nats) aimed at redirecting flights away from towns to less populated rural areas are now up for public consulation.
Planes coming in to land from the east currently fly over the Leighton-Linslade area and then curve back sharply south of the town and drop down to Luton from a westerly direction.
This will not change but more aircraft will be concentrated along a specific line rather than being spread out in a wide swathe of airspace.
Geoff Twiss, the chairman of the People Against Intrusive Aircraft Noise (PAIN) campaign group, says there will be "winners and losers" as a result of the proposed routes.
The most significant change is easterly arrivals into Luton will be pushed to the north of Leighton.
After circling at a stack near St Neots in Cambridgeshire, the "red line" route, at a minimum of 4,000 feet, will take them over Potsgrove and Stockgrove, just north of Heath and Reach.
Aircraft will then head towards Soulbury, Burcott, Wing, and Mentmore before joining the old route at Cheddington.
These places can expect an increase in the number of aircraft directly overhead, although not at different heights from now.
Mr Twiss said in theory planes should miss Leighton Buzzard altogether during busy periods when they will have to stick to a strict route.
However, he said, during quieter times pilots will have more freedom and will be able to take shortcuts over the town.
"They say planes will fly on the centre line when it is busy," said Mr Twiss.
"But during other times they will take the most expeditious, ie the shortest, route which means they will be flying directly over Leighton Buzzard."
Even so, stricter navigation along the central line ought to result in fewer planes over the Billington Park and Sandhills corner of Leighton, Eaton Bray, Hockliffe, Eggington, Stanbridge, Billington, and Slapton.
Residents will now be able to have their say on the proposals which were formally announced last Wednesday.
The consultation period is set to last 13 weeks and the changes will gradually come into force from March next year after approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.
From next year there will be an average of 11 planes an hour and 25 during peak times.
At present it appears that the Leighton area will not be affected by the changes to the departure routes from Luton Airport.
Mr Twiss added: "There will be winners and losers. We would be looking for greater clarity from Nats."
The new route can be found on page F37 of the consultation document by visiting www.nats.co.uk/TCNconsultation.
Get the Leighton Buzzard Observer every Tuesday.
Source: Richard Cooper, Leighton Buzzard Observer, 26 February 2008
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