Ruffley submits views to air traffic consultation

Tuesday, 10 June, 2008

David Ruffley MP met members of the Save Our Silence Action Group (SOSAG) in the St Edmundsbury Council Chamber last Friday, 6 June to listen to their objections to the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) proposals.

The meeting was co-ordinated by Alan Horne of Rattlesden and attended by Frances and Roland Bee, founder members of SOSAG and 25 SOSAG members who all live in villages adversely affected by the proposed Stansted Eastern Hold, including Rattlesden, Felsham, Gedding, Drinkstone, Great Finborough and Poy Street Green.

David is now submitting his formal response to the NATS consultation. Points in his submission include:

• Opposition to the siting of the Stansted Eastern Hold over some of the most tranquil villages in his constituency and holding aircraft below 7,000 feet in this area;

• The impact of aircraft noise will fall disproportionately on residents in rural areas because the ambient noise is much less;

• Aircraft noise will have a detrimental effect on rural businesses servicing tourism;

• Questioning why air traffic cannot be held over the sea;

• Criticism of the consultation process and its methodology;

• Questioning why this consultation is taking place before the future of Stansted is decided.

David said: 'I am now submitting my response to the NATS consultation and I'm also seeking an urgent meeting with senior NATS officials- Jane Johnston, Head of External Communications, and Jonathan Astill, Head of Airspace and Network Management- to lobby them personally on behalf of my concerned constituents.

'At the meeting last Friday, SOSAG made a very good case against the NATS proposals, which will see increased air traffic over some of the most tranquil villages in my constituency. The clear view of my constituents was that Stansted air traffic from the east should be held over the sea. They also question why these proposals are being made in advance of a decision on a second runway at Stansted.

'Not only did SOSAG members emphasise very strongly their criticism of the proposals to hold aircraft at altitudes below 7,000 feet over sparsely populated rural areas in Mid Suffolk but they were also very critical of the consultation's methodology and the lack of readily available information from NATS.

"I call on NATS to go back to the drawing board and rethink air traffic proposals for our part of Suffolk. They are dumping noise pollution on my constituents, whereas they should be looking at ways to reduce the impact of air traffic over Suffolk, particularly if Stansted air traffic increases significantly in the future.

'NATS do not deny that it is possible to hold air traffic over the North Sea, just that it is all very difficult and would need a complete redesign of the air traffic system. If that's what it takes, then that is what they should do.

'My constituents pointed out that people don't have to live in the countryside to be affected by the NATS proposals- this is not a 'nimby' protest. Many town dwellers visit rural areas to get some peace and quiet. If the tranquillity we currently enjoy in our delightful villages is shattered, tourism and the rural economy will suffer.'