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Airspace under attack!!!
2008
The Lee Home Page
Airspace Home Page
NEWSLETTER Archives
Airspace: your comments
Below you will find comments made by readers of this website.
You might also want to look at the
 Chiltern Countryside Group or the Wigginton Action Group.
But remember the key thing to do is to protest!!!
A Guide to opposing NATS -  including a list of who to let know your views - can be found here.


30th November
The latest position as reported to The Lee Newsletter is here.

16th November
I recently complained about the noise of planes over South Heath (again) and was sent a lengthy reply and the booklet that BAA issue about Heathrow traffic. I then pressed them on exactly what they meant by heights etc. and received a further reply stating that all aircraft overhead South Heath will be "considerably higher than 4000', where 4000' is measured above Heathrow."  We are at some 550' and Heathrow is at 83', giving quite a difference. According to the dictionary, "considerably" means largely or greatly which suggests to me that the height should be at least half as much again, above 6000'.  Is there a way of checking this?  I believe that some equipment was purchased to do such measurements.  Does anyone know the results please?  It is vital that this campaign does not lose momentum.

I also seem to recall that the Luton traffic was routed above the Heathrow traffic.  Is this correct?
Paul Marchant
South Heath


4th November
Could you kindly add a note of thanks to those people who have generously contributed towards the cost of opinions from leading counsel on the NATS proposals? With a contribution from Chiltern Conservation Board, plus my own, these have covered both the fees and the inevitable VAT payable. We are now awaiting the result of the further considerations by NATS following their feedback report, but we are shortly to hear about the third runway at Heathrow and if that gets the go ahead, then apart form further objections to that, we need to bring pressure to bear on NATS to move the Bovingdon stack, as an earlier NATS report on Heathrow said that this would have to be done if there is to be a third runway.
Michael  Jepson
St Leonards


17th October
Am I alone in thinking that the outer edges of the Bovingdon Stack have moved further north?
Veronica Carter


14th October
If you wish to check out any of the Heathrow flights, log on to http://lhr.webtrak-lochard.com/template/index.html   You need to accept their conditions first The tracking has a delay of approx 24 hours but if you then link to the past date and time concerned, you can then track all the Heathrow flights If you click on to the relevant plane shown this then shows the make, airline flight and height etc including all the planes in the stack at that time  Unfortunately there is no similar facility for Luton flights
Michael Jepson
St Leonards

13th October
Yes Peter.  We are by Chequers ie Rignall Road. We have recently noticed planes coming from Missenden way flying due north and low - so not part of the Heathrow stack, but additional planes.  Last night we saw a whole load more flying south over Gt Hampden and Prestwood.  Also we made the mistake of leaving some of the double glazing open (as a result of a lovely weekend of sunshine) only to be woken up this morning at 6 am by the air craft noise!  The Easy jet planes are the worst.  They are flying over Coombe Cross and although they would claim they are high up, due to the natural topography and their poor sound management, the noise levels can be more than a bit intrusive.  If the same noise came from kids playing ghetto blasters on the street I dare say someone would serve them an injunction.
Nick Cook
Gt Missenden


12th October
Has anyone else noticed the heavy air traffic of the last few days. Over Great Missenden the stack has been starting before 6am and running through until late in the evening. Often it is two high and at least once three high. I photographed this on Saturday morning and I would be interested to know how the safe distances are being respected with three planes circling in the same direction one above the other, turning very close to the southern edge of Luton westbound and with Heathrow northbound coming through the gaps.
Peter Osborne
Great Missenden


26th September
I was very interested to read the other comments on this website.
I live at the Oxfordshire end of the Chilterns where the NATs proposals seem not to have aroused much comment from our local council or MP. However since April this year when Heathrow has been on Easterly operations (landing from the west) planes have been flying over our area much more frequently and at much lower altitudes. Although we have always officially been occasionally over flown by aircraft landing at Heathrow, we have never been unduly bothered by aircraft. Now the planes literally turn over our garden at heights below 4000ft before they start their final approach to Heathrow. This occurs frequently and for long periods of time. We are now often woken by planes over flying the house before 6am. Anecdotal evidence gathered from the internet would suggest that changes to the Luton flight paths/stacks are having a knock on effect here, not mentioned in any of the NATs proposals (or not so far as I can ascertain), and that, as others have commented, these are already being put into operation. I have complained to the BAA noise complaints department for Heathrow. Their response has been to tell me that there has been no change to flight paths and it is due to weather conditions etc. To my mind this is a wholly inadequate explanation for such a dramatic change.
Planes departing from Heathrow also seem to be flying closer to our area, the result is that the skies are very rarely silent any more due to a constant rumble of aircraft.
R Hodson
Peppard

25th September
The second report form the Chiltern Countryside Group on the NATS propodsals, which went to NATS and CAA yesterday and was released today to the councils etc. is available at: http://www.chilterncountrysidegroup.org
Paul Francis
CCG Media & Communications

19th September
I also feel that we must continue to complain about current and proposed aircraft flight paths.  I write on a regular basis to all parties concerned. I sometimes get a response, sometimes not, but I want my concerns kept upper most on their agendas. These flights over our homes are more frequent, are lower and are 24 hours a day and all this is recent, despite all the denials from relevant bodies.
Jill Try
Buckland Common


18th September
I live in Buckland Common and just wanted to advise that we are also experiencing a considerable increase in not only numbers of flights but also noise due to the lower levels that the planes are flying at across the area. I have also been awoken on several occasions at 3.50am in the morning, the last time being two nights ago when the planes undercarriage and night lights were clearly visible above our garden as it flew towards Wendover. As on all 3 occasions it has been the same time I believe it to be a scheduled flight. Apart from these rogue night flights the planes seem to start flying across our area from 6.30am all through the day until 12.30pm at night. Life here is becoming wretched. If we'd had a motorway built through these hill top villages people would be have been consulted and had an opportunity to stop it through planning and legitimate protest. But put a motorway above our homes and we can't even find out who is responsible or stop it in any way.
 
My husband and I moved here from central London 3 years ago for the peace and wonderful surroundings, we also naively thought as an area of outstanding beauty it would be protected from urbanisation. How wrong we were. We intend to move now.
 
Lastly, we went on a balloon ride a couple of weeks ago and the pilot confirmed that they have had to reduce there flight heights across the area due to the increase in low flights this year. We can't all be wrong. Someone, somewhere has re routed these flights already ahead of the NATs proposal. I just wanted to add this comment in the vain hope that it might help. Good Luck
Michelle Storm
Buckland Common


28th August
The Chiltern Countryside Group's response to the interim report from NATS can be found here. (A Word document)

26th August
Adding to Sue's comments, speaking to someone who regulary 'glides' out of Dunstable, he also confirms that Airliners are now more regularly flying at their minimum height (3500 ft) and that the gliders have to be very strict in operating only to 3,000 ft in this area. He also says they have to make spceial efforts to notify visiting gliders who would normally expect to 'soar' much higher over the Chiltern edge. He says their is nothing more scary when gliding than spotting an airliner beneath you!
Colin Sully
Swan Bottom


22nd August
In response to Greg Porter

We have been advised categorically by Luton Airport that no changes have as yet been made, and they made this statement to cover the whole TCN area. However, like you, we here in Tring, are getting a lot more larger aircraft flying North from Heathrow - these are the noisy ones for us mostly as they are still below 7000ft.  I believe they have made a change in routing from Heathrow but within their already designated flightpaths.  Two of our Steering Group members are directly in touch with Heathrow's Environmental Office and I'll pass your e-mails to them for comment.  Please do complain as often as you can - info. on how to do this is on the CCG website.  www.chilterncountrysidegroup.org.  It does make a difference - by law, the airport has to log, record & investigate every complaint they receive & this is then presented to the public usually quarterly, or at least annually.  We recently visited Luton Airport's Environmental Office & they are in constant communication with the Air Traffic Controllers especially when planes are directed off normal routing & complaints are made. We have generally been receiving info. on many more low-flying aircraft over the Chilterns from supporters.  Would suggest you contact the Environmental Office at Heathrow directly yourself first to see if they can supply this information.  If you feel it would have more impact coming from a Group such as ours, please come back to me.

Sue Yeomans.
on behalf of Chiltern Countryside Group.


16th August
Update from Chiltern Coutryside Group -
Latest Activities:
We are writing to NATS responding to their initial feedback report, included will be the letter from DEFRA minister Jonathan Shaw to the Dept. for transport stating that NATS do have to abide by section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 with regard to the AONB (conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the area). NATS have described 4 options that they are considering for their route near Tring. Our Technical Team are analysing these and will respond shortly. NATS have stated that they are rethinking the route across the centre of the Chilterns AONB that has attracted so much opposition. We await their new proposals.

Luton Airport’s environmental team used their noise monitoring equipment in Tring on 25th July 2008. We are awaiting their results.
The CCG Steering Group has been having ongoing meetings to formulate our responses and discuss future strategy. On 17th July, the various large stakeholders and public bodies met in Amersham to discuss their joint response to NATS which has been submitted by the Chiltern Conservation Board. We are drafting our submission to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee regarding the way that NATS have run their Consultation, the wastage of money by not properly consulting and their seemingly not working on airspace changes in a logical order (eg. not consulting on moving the Bovingdon Stack first which we consider to be the most fundamental issue to free up airspace in the TCN area).

Please continue to report noisy aircraft, we have had demonstrated to us that your complaints are taken very seriously at Luton, and if the planes are off track or flying at the incorrect altitude NATS are instructed to correct this immediately. We will keep you updated and welcome your comments/ideas at any time.

CCG Steering Group

11th August
In reply to Greg Porter of South Heath, I live at Little Hampden and I too am convinced that flight paths have changed and are lower but, if you complain to Luton, they blind you with science.  It needs someone with some knowledge to investigate.
 
Veronica Carter
Little Hampden

26th July
Hello - will one of your clever campaigners be able to interpret and summarise the 75 pages of the NATS document issued on 22nd July, 2008 so ordinary people can understand it.

Jenny Parsons


15th July
I am not sure who is the correct person to send this to but if not perhaps you can direct this to the appropriate party.  I earnestly believe that significant flight path changes are already being put into effect by NAT'S (?) & I suspect that the airlines and the NATC authority have sanctioned lower flying heights whilst the enquiry deliberates!  It is very very apparent this is taking place over us in South Heath and is not just a seasonal thing.   It would not surprise me if NATS would then simply declare they had not received any complaints whilst the new proposals were being tested! 

I would be interesting to obtain 1/2/3 year statistics (frequency & flying heights) from them to establish if this is the case.  What is the view of other residents in the area.  Have these suspicions already been submitted to NATS or other parties?

Greg Porter
South Heath


5th July
My wife and I have lived in Little Chalfont for 20 years and are getting really annoyed and distressed by the increasing numbers of light aircraft and helicopters flying around the area at all hours of the day and night. It has got so bad that it is now affecting my wifes health, particularly on fine sunny days when it is now virtually non stop noise.I recall some months ago there was an article in the local paper about your group protesting about the proposed changes in flight paths etc from Luton airport, and was hoping that you might be able to help in either suggesting some organisations or groups that we could contact in order to voice our opinions, or point us in the direction of anyone who we could complain to and get some help or advice, as the constant noise is now intolerable.

Larry Gillard
Little Chalfont


4th July
Whenever there is any doubt, I was always taught to put my money
every time on a 'cock-up' rather than a 'conspiracy' . The trouble is, if  NATS can't be trusted to handle a simple mailing of acknowledgements effectively, how can anyone have any confidence that they can handle a full-blown consultation process?

Colin Sully
Swan Bottom

4th July
I thought you may be interested to hear that we have just received another acknowledgement from NATS, apologising that we had been sent the first one in error. They have confirmed that our submission was in fact received in time, and our views have been logged as part of the consultation.
Let's hope this applies to everyone in the villages who sent objections close to the closing date.

Ruth Fowler
The Lee

4th July
Hello - surprise, surprise I have today received a letter from NATS dated 3rd July 2008 apologising for sending me the wrong letter and that OF COURSE my view will be taken into account and that my letter was not too late.   Have other people who had received the first letter also been acknowledged?   I hope so.  I see NATS are going to spend four to five weeks in creating a Consultation Feedback Report which will be on their website by 22nd July. 2008.   My goodness they will be working day and night to consider all the letters and objections.

Jenny Parsons
Hawridge


3rd July
I rang NATS today regarding the letter I received from them yesterday which made it appear that our response had arrived too late. I spoke to a lady in the press office and gave her our letter reference no/code.  She said she'd find out about it and call me back. I gave it a couple of hours and then rang her again to see whether she'd done anything.
She was able to tell me that our letter, posted using their Freepost address on June 16th, had been received on June 18th, ie in time, and that the contents would therefore be considered. She said she hadn't rung back because the Airspace Development Team (the generators of such correspondence) hadn't yet told her what they were going to do about what she called an "erroneous mailshot of a standard letter". To her credit, she rang me later today to say that a letter of apology was being drafted today and would be received by us and all those of us in the same boat, in the next couple of days. Interestingly though, a neighbour of mine was rung by a man from NATS as a result of his contacting the Guardian newspaper. This neighbour had sent his letter in the week before mine but had still received the same standard letter as everyone else implying he was too late. The man from NATS told my neighbour that his acknowlegement letter had contained a typing error and then was somewhat surprised when my neighbour told him about my conversation with the press office and the information I had gleaned! The NATS press officer wouldn't tell me how many people had been sent the wrong letter, but it's obviously enough for them to have to generate a new one and send it out. Hope this is of interest and of some help.

Frances Cutler
South Heath

3rd July
Having also been outraged to receive the standard NATS letter implying our letter arrived too late, (which was not the case as MPs had already  replied to the copies we sent them before June 19th!) a neighbour and I have this morning had separate telephone calls with two employees of NATS: Marie Dyer and Patrick Horwood. Both were at pains to point out that this NATS letter was an error, but their explanations for the error were not the same. I am deeply suspicious of  the reasons for this and have asked our MPs to investigate as a matter of urgency. I also contacted a Dan Milmo at the Guardian newspaper who rang NATS. I hope that everyone else who received the same letter from NATS will complain immediately.

Paul Marchant
South Heath

2nd July
There seems to be a pattern here - we received the same acknowledgement from NATS today suggesting that our comments would be ignored .......

Ruth Fowler

2nd July
Two of us got together and sent our letters to NATS in response to their consultation process before the 19th June deadline in a Royal Mail Special Delivery bag.  I have a signed proof of delivery document showing it was received in NATS Reading office before the deadline.  Nevertheless, both of us received the same form letter from NATS dated 1st July as Jenny has described.  This institutional arrogance confirms that NATS have no intention of conducting any sort of thoughtful consultation.  It is clear that they expect to sandbag the CAA and government into accepting their deeply flawed plan.  I hope everybody whose response has been wrongfully deemed to be out of time will express rage to MP's and the CAA.

Bill Ingram

2nd July
Hello - today I received an acknowledgement from Nats dated 1st July, 2008 of my letter dated and posted first class on 15th June, 2008. "The consultation ceased on 19 June 2008. Notwithstanding the above your views may still be logged as part of the consultation" 

What is going on?  I received replies from BCC dated 18th June;  one MP on the 19th and others shortly after that.  Could Nats be stockpiling unopened letters? 

Jenny Parsons

Hawridge

19th June
As a retired Civil Engineer, I would suggest that special attention is drawn to our height above Sea Level. With Planes flying relative to quoted levels above Sea Level, we lose out on distance from planes, by the height we all are above Sea Level, to start with. For a Level Playing Field for all, Planes should be fitted with vertical Radar to tell its Pilots the height they are above the Ground immediately below them at any given moment. The Readout should have an alarm fitted, adjustable for height by the pilot, to alert Pilots when they are less than the agreed level above Ground, with agreements being required to be reached with local County Councils.  This is especially necessary due to our proximity to over-flights to all London Aerports.
 
With the ever increasing cost of fuel for Planes and everyone, there must be less likelihood that Government current forecasts will prove accurate in both long and short term. The government should be told to think again after reappraising its forecasts in the light of projected ever increasing Inflation, with its effects on all our lives.  For the same reason we have a right to expect the postponement of extra runways until these effects can be shown how they will affect us over the next Ten years.
 
There must be better things to spend Government money on at this time, with the Government having to borrow so much extra money, they should be cutting down on Projects that look increasingly as if they will not be needed in the foreseeable future at all!!
 
George J.C.Meacock
Chalfont St Peter


18th June
I am happy to  add my name to those objecting to the proposed re-routing of air traffic over the Lee where my eldest daughter and her young family live and which they have chosen for its quietness.

Roger Hill
Totnes
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17th June 2008
LATEST NEWS FROM CHILTERN COUNTRYSIDE GROUP ON NATS CAMPAIGN
On your behalf, we continue the campaign which will ask NATS to re-think the current proposals to change flight paths operating out of London Luton Airport. As we have said before, you are all most important to this campaign.


On behalf of the Chiltern Countryside Group
Linda & Sue


14th June
Copy of
County Councillor Tricia Birchley's letter to NATS: pmbirchley
(See also BCC's formnal response: BCC.)

13th June
Latest Comments

I would encourage readers to look at the comments from the ex air-traffic controller. I think his understanding of the situation puts the position in a sensible light and casts doubt on many of the more hysterical comments.
 
The position of the Chilterns Consultation Board (Confirmed in 2001 ) saying that aircraft must not fly over an AONB below 7000 feet is very much akin to people who on moving in to an area complain over the smells in the countryside, cocks crowing, church bells ringing for the faithful, mud on the roads. Luton Airport has been there since the year dot.
 
I notice that on noise issues, claiming the high ground as being noisier as aircraft are closer is questionable. Try living in a valley and the noise reverberations .
 
I was amused by the recent article from the Daily Telegraph extolling the qualities of life living in the Chiltern D.Council area,  - close to a beautiful countryside, excellent transport links, convenience for AIRPORTS etc.
 
I am also intrigued by the increase in the number of visitors to the AONB since the start of the campaign. 50,000,000 or 136,983 every day of the year.  Government statistics? or should the figure be 52 million or 142,486 visits per day. Perhaps the increase in visitor numbers is down to the recent publicity. Whatever the cause we should be told.
 
M61merlin@aol.com

6th June
Bucks Free Press article on "New Group to fight Flight Path Plan"
http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/search/display.var.2314766.0.new_group_to_fight_flight_path_plan.php

Paul Francis
Great Missenden

6th June
We have sent a long list of questions to NATS (see attached) in light of the legal advice obtained. We believe the clarification and explanation we request are on issues not adequately dealt with in the consultation document and the information NATS has been asked for is essential to enable us to make a full response. We will circulate if and when we receive a reply from NATS.

Steve Rodrick
Chief Officer, Chilterns Conservation Board

6th June
Having moved to a rural area to escape noise ourselves, the residents of your area have all our sympathy with regards to the proposed flight changes.  Surely, some small part of your beautiful countryside could be left in peace?  Obviously, air travel and freight carriage is important, but surely there's also a place in civilization for the peacefulpreservation of "country".  Here's hoping for the best resolution possible.

Lynn & Eric Walker
Ritzville, WA  USA


5th June
For those having disturbed nights please read this:
http://www.chilternsociety.org.uk/content/dloads/NatsTCNorth-Part2v4.pdf
Read sect 2 :
“However, consultation specifically asks for opinion on option to require all aircraft to route via holding stack – this would obviously alter position radically.”
This is worth an extra addition to your submission I think – they may consider stopping the routing of inbound easterlies over us at all - stopping the night disturbances.

Paul Francis
Great Missenden


5th June
I’ve just logged-on to the NATS website to submit my comments. All respondees are required (forced!) to answer the following question:-

This consultation is specifically seeking feedback on whether people prefer that, during less busy periods, aircraft follow either direct flight paths to the runway, reducing fuel burn and emissions but spreading the noise across the wider community, or a specified route which may burn more fuel and produce more CO2 but concentrates noise along a defined path (please see Section 5 of Part D of the consultation document for more information).
Specific issues where NATS seeks feedback:
* I prefer the use of direct flight paths
* I prefer the use of specified routes
This seems to be a leading question – in the context of opposing the proposed routing of planes over the Chilterns which is the best answer to give?

David Strong


5th June
http://www.buckinghamshireexaminer.co.uk/archives/2008/05/luton_airport_p.html

Paul Francis

Great Missenden
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5th June
I live in Buckland Common and am of course very concerned about the proposals. Do you have any update at all. I log on to our website (The Lee) for up to date info but I guess all is being debated. Can we do anything in these last decisive hours.

Like most people - recently these flights overhead have become a nightmare, it seems changes have happened anyway. 10 an hour - it'll more like double that. sometimes over my cottage 3 or 4 planes at a time criss-crossing in all directions and all levels. I do hope they realise that compensation for mental breakdowns will be going there way. Its unbearable already.

Jill Try
Buckland Common

2nd June
Reply from Luton Airport Operations to complaints about existing noise:


"Thank you for your e-mail below to the Airfield Environment Office, reporting recent increased disturbance from aircraft activity in your area. I am sorry you have had cause to contact us in this respect and confirm that your concerns have been registered within our complaints database.

Following investigation I can verify that the reported disturbance correlates to the Luton arrival of a Monarch passenger flight following standard procedures during the recent prolonged period of easterly operations. In contrast during westerly operations your area will not generally be directly impacted by Luton traffic although you will still experience overflights from other airports, mainly Heathrow due to your proximity to the Bovingdon Hold. 

Any general disturbance from Luton aircraft operations in your area is likely to relate primarily to the small number of Luton arrivals following straight in approaches from the south when winds favour easterly operations (on average 30% of the time, dictated primarily by wind direction).  These landing aircraft will be following northeasterly headings over the Great Missenden area, at altitudes typically between 4,000ft and 5,000ft before intercepting the final descent glideslope in the vicinity of Tring. 

On an annual basis, easterly operations occur on average 30% of the time although our records identify that during May 2008 winds favoured an easterly mode of operation for well over 80% of the time, which is extremely unusual.  In this respect I must stress that runway usage is determined primarily by wind direction, as aircraft are required to take off and land into the wind.

I enclose, for clarification, a copy of our recently updated Information Pack which contains sample flight tracks depicting a typical day's Luton air traffic showing both departures and arrivals (easterly and westerly operations) to help identify the amount of air traffic to be expected in your area, dependent on runway usage.   Further maps outlining the current Luton departure routes and final approach flightpaths (for both easterly and westerly operations) together with explanatory leaflets on Arrivals/Departures and Airport actions in minimising aircraft noise are also included.   Also enclosed is a plot density diagram identifying all London Luton Airport aircraft movements over a three month summer period, where the areas with the highest concentration of flight tracks are shown in the brightest colours.

As you may already be aware London Luton Airport, in line with the designated London Airports, holds a 24 hour licence to operate and whilst only a very small percentage of our total movements occur at night we do have some cargo operations, mainly postal flights or those providing express/next day delivery services (typically 2-3 per night).   However, many of the flights with less time-critical cargo now operate during the daytime, which does of course help reduce night noise disturbance for those living in close proximity to the airport.  In addition to these cargo operations there will be some passenger flights at night (mainly arrivals landing back at Luton for the night between 23:00 hrs and midnight although there may be some delayed flights beyond this time) and a small number of ad hoc business jets.  However, I can confirm that our last scheduled passenger departure is generally around 22:00 hrs.

I do apologise for any disturbance caused as a result of Luton aircraft operations, which will undoubtedly have been exacerbated in your area during the recent spell of easterly winds. 

Yours sincerely, for and on behalf of London Luton Airport Operations Ltd.
"
30th May
NOISE COMPLAINT to Luton website:

"29th May 2300 hrs approx, very low flying aircraft inbound to Luton probably air braking too shook the windows in our house. We seem to be getting more aircraft between 2230 and 0300 hrs now than ever - they never fly inbound over here outside these hours and I believe that they should not be vectored in this low anyway over the AONB away from the preferred routes. Last night there were 4 inbounds over here and during the week we have had a number of very late arrivals too."

Get complaining – neighbour too, and make sure you ask for a reply.

Paul Francis
Great Missenden

28th May
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?id=2008-05-21a.122.0&s=council+tax
Margaret Morans debate in more detail

Paul Francis
Great Missenden

28th May
Conclusions from BCC submission to NATS (full text available on request):

"You will note from all of the above that the County Council and many residents of Buckinghamshire are greatly concerned by the proposed changes affecting the Chilterns AONB and adjoining areas in Aylesbury Vale. We therefore call on NATS to reconsider the current damaging proposals. At the very least, attention should be focused on getting the planes (primarily on Luton departures but also on some Northolt departures) to much higher altitudes over the Chilterns AONB than is currently shown on the proposals maps. So far as the Luton departure routes to the southwest are concerned, if that means retaining unaltered the current procedures, in which planes overfly Wendover and Princes Risborough at 4,500-5,000ft, then we would prefer that to what is presently proposed. In the latter context, it appears that there is currently little adverse impact on either of these communities caused by the existing procedures. Luton Airport’s Annual Monitoring Report identifies only two noise related complaints in Wendover between 2003 and 2007 and only four in Princes Risborough over the same period.      

In closing, we are also very significantly concerned about the seemingly very short interval between the end of the consultation period and the date by which NATS intends to submit its final advice to the CAA. We do not believe that such a short space of time is consistent with NATS giving serious consideration to the many representations which it is doubtless going to receive – and this again casts serous doubt about the validity of the whole consultation process."


Martin Tett
Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Bucks County Council


27th May
Great Missenden Parish Council's response to NATS
"Great Missenden Parish Council objects strongly to the proposed changes to the South Westerly flight paths from Luton Airport. There is a very high level of genuine worry and concern among our parishioners that aircraft noise will increase substantially both in terms of decibels and frequency.

The most disturbing factor in this proposal is the seeming disregard of the duty of care that all statutory bodies have towards Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The whole of Great Missenden Parish lies in the Chilterns AONB, which was created 40 years ago and has provided a great many people with an accessible area of quiet countryside for peaceful leisure pursuits.

This important facility would be seriously jeopardised if planes start flying 1000 feet lower than at present as the increase in decibels would be very noticeable. Particularly in Prestwood and Ballinger which are already approximately 700 ft above sea level. The increase in the number of flights following this flight path would also increase the noise, especially at night when it is almost silent here.

The Council is unconvinced that a better route for this flight path cannot be found. Why not direct planes over the south of Aylesbury Vale which is only 80 ft above sea level, is not heavily populated and is not an AONB? Why can’t planes from Heathrow and Luton climb more quickly after take off so that they are higher by the time they get to the AONB?

This Council strongly recommends that these proposals are withdrawn and that more acceptable proposals are put forward which give due regard to the preservation of the Chilterns AONB."


GMPC's response to NATS
(sent 20th May)

23rd May
Thank you for posting the parliamentary questions on your websites (The Lee, Chartridge). Here are the first of the answers. My take on the first is that flights to and from Luton are anticipated to rise from over 83,000 last year to 130,000 in 2020 which is an increase of 44%. The second is interesting if the CAA is being reminded of the importance of AONBs... how much notice it will take of that importance is another matter.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the projected change in numbers of flights (a) to and (b) from Luton airport by 2020 is; what percentage of flights using Luton airport were domestic in the latest period for which figures are available; and what percentage she expects to be domestic in 2020.
 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport’s forecasts for Luton airport are set out in table G8 of the UK Air Passenger Demand and CO2 Forecasts report (November 2007). Luton airport is projected to have 130,000 air transport movements in 2020. The split between domestic and international flights is not readily available. However, we estimate that of the 17 million passengers forecast to use Luton in 2015, 12 per cent. would be domestic passengers.
According to the latest statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority, there were 69,491 international flights and 13,828 domestic flights at Luton in 2007.
 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to protect national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty from the effects of aircraft noise pollution.
 
Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has no formal role to play in how airspace is utilised. The Civil Aviation Authority is charged with scrutinising airspace change proposals and reaching a decision on them, balancing all the competing interests. I understand that Department for Transport guidance requires the Civil Aviation Authority to be rigorous in identifying and reviewing all significant environmental effects of airspace changes, and to notify the Secretary of State for Transport should an airspace change have a significant detrimental effect on the environment. However, I recently asked my officials to write to the Civil Aviation Authority to remind it of its duty to have regard to the purposes of the National Parks under the provisions of section 11A(2) of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, and the purpose of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty under the provisions of section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
Peter Jones
Chiltern DC member for Ballinger, South Heath & Chartridge

21st May
I was wondering if you could pass on our thanks to the people who went to the time and trouble to put up the signs, distribute the leaflets and the letter in the shop about the flight paths. All very useful. I notice on the NATS website that the time for replying to the consultation has been extended until 19 June so that is good news.

Susannah and Mark Whittle
The Lee

15th May
When considering our area and drafting a response, it is worth reading section E of the NATS Consultation document which covers the changes affecting Cambridgeshire etc and in particular the Dedham Vale and Stour and Orwell Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Paragraph 6 with 24 deatiled sub paragraphs) What a difference and what detail to explain how this AONB area is to be affected with the intrusions there from a minimum 6000 feet up to 14,000 feet compared with our 3-4000 feet measured above sea level!  All this is possibly due to the court case referred to by Marilyn Fletcher  - and I am endeavoring to obtain details of this case from Dedham Vale AONB to see how that might help our case.  But why does the Chilterns AONB only get scant mention in our section of the very same document (5 subparagraphs of para 12 Section F) when, in the very same report, NATS clearly recognises the need to address the special position and requirements of the AONB’s, yet it fails to do so when dealing with the far more drastic proposals for the Chilterns AONB.. At least this needs to be drawn to the attention of CAA as yet another anomaly

Michael Jepson
St. Leonards

15th May
I have been woken up numerous times in the last couple of months by aircraft flying overhead! (what is going on?).  Eventually gave up trying to sleep and instead pondered the issues we are facing. Obviously, NIMBY thinking is irrelevant - I am sure I am not the only one unhappy about air noise levels. However, thinking long term, I am saddened to imagine a world where there will be nowhere left to find peace and tranquility.  My husband and I moved out of London to the country to find a peaceful rural lifestyle.

By NATS allowing the AONB to be ruined forever by the changed, lowered flight paths, it is doing a disservice to future generations who may never have the option to leave noisy cities for a quieter life in the country.  If our government does nothing to protect it, would be a immense failure to one of the most wonderful things about the UK - the English countryside.  And it would be taking choice away from future generations - choice of a qiueter life away from the cities. At least if you choose to live near an airport you realise what you are in for and you take that, along with the conveniences of that particular location.  It is completely unacceptable that not enough is being done to protect the Chilterns (and all other) AONBs. For now AND for the future.

Having just had a look at the consultation documents as well, there is also something to be said about limiting the no. of flights going over this small island.  In a world where we are trying to reduce our carbon footprints, who is taking a stand to reduce the no. of planes taking off from airports across the country.  Particularly to get rid of low cost flights.  Who is encouraging people to holiday in the UK?  To use the eurotrain?  To NOT fly?  Perhaps rising oil prices may help.  Anyway, that is another fight I know.  But lack of sleep due to noisy aeroplanes! is making me angry that the economies of easyjets etc... are ruining people's lifestyles.

Anyway, I will be writing again, to Jonathan Shaw and to Hilary Benn - they obviously are not working hard enough!

I know this is a rant, but if we don't do something now, it may be too late to change things later.  So please write your letters today!  Tell your neighbours too as well.  Protect our AONB - for now, and for future generations.

Carmel Botwright

(email address supplied)

13th May
There has been a suggestion that we should all put a car sticker in our cars saying no to the NATS proposals. Has anyone done this already? Any thoughts?

Roger

Dunsmore


13th May
If you're not aware of it already, I thought you'd be interested in this link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/7397761.stm
It's an article posted on the BBC's website on Tuesday 13 May, headed 'MPs want more airspace discussion', showing that opposition to the NATS proposals is widespread in other affected counties.  Perhaps David Lidington would be interested in seeing it - though he is probable already in touch with the two MPs mentioned: James Paice (SE Cambridgeshire) and Richard Spring (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk).

Jane Turner
Hyde Heath


13th May
If you follow the NATs report details, it would appear that flying heights up to 3000 feet are measured from airport height but that, after that, they are measured from sea level. They indicate that Luton airport is 500 feet above sea level so that, following that logic, the planes would already be 3500 above sea level by the time the measurement goes from 3000 to 4000 feet so that, with 4000 feet measured above sea level and 3000 above airport height, then there is only 500 feet difference between 3000 feet and 4000 feet over our area. How on earth therefore or, to be more precise, how in the sky, is it necessary and indeed safe for planes to keep within that 500 feet from just above Welwyn until the plane gets over the A413 when it is due to attain 4000 feet and above. More importantly why is all this necessary, given that the current levels reach 4000 feet by the time the planes reach north of Hemel ? There are too many unanswered questions, which they have failed to address, all no doubt linked to Heathrow  - possibly to prepare the ground now for a third, nearer to us, runway ?

Michael Jepson
St. Leonards
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11th May
Old English proverb: One swallow doth not a summer make. The change of aircraft approaches/departure routes recently might just have something to do with the build up of thunderstorms from which the Chilterns are not yet immune-despite being an Area of tranquility.


M61merlin@aol.com

10th May
A number of people have mentioned Dedham Vale Society's backing of an individual named Tom Hill in a 5 day action at the High Court. He took the CAA and NATS to court "which resulted in the complete vindication of Tom Hill's legal team of the need to establish that the special protection afforded by Parliament to AONB's should not be overridden by accident through an airspace change which failed to predict its impacts accurately."  This is described on their website www.dedhamvalesociety.org.uk under topical news. It is also described in a newspaper article by the Essex County Standard posted on the society's website.

It seems that in the present consultation NATS have taken account of that court action as described in the newspaper article. Dedham Vale Society seem pleased with the new proposed flight paths. If NATS has taken the AONB seriously over there, why hasn't the result of this action been applied here?
 
People are saying "why can't we do the same"? Or "why hasn't the result of this case been applied here"?


Marilyn Fletcher
Great Missenden

10th May
The Wigginton 2 meeting is on Thursday 15 May at 8 pm in the large hall at Wigginton village on Chesham Road. This meeting was set up by Wig Parish Council to help them in their response to NATS. There will be a talk by Michael Nidd.


Marilyn Fletcher
Great Missenden

8th May
Note: flight paths have already changed, low planes over Dunsmore last night and this morning. Stack seems to have moved west and northerly. What ever happened to consultation. Will write to CAA today

Roger Waller
Dunsmore


7th May
Having posted a somewhat cynical previous posting I trust the following may be some help in assisting some form of facts to proceedings.
 
A company called Kinetic Aviation Products Ltd provide a clever piece of kit called the SBS-1.which when coupled to a computer shows in real time aircraft in the locality or up to 50 miles away. Details of the aircraft on the screen show height, track and speed together with company call sign/flight number as a moving display. It would show RYR for Ryanair and EZY for the EasyJet. All this from the comfort of ones own home or car. It also "sets up" using ones location as a centre point. Range rings are shown from 1 mile up to 2000 miles. With my set I can see aircraft approaching Heathrow and Luton. Luton down to 3500 ft. I am in a valley. I have not tried it out on a higher part of the Chilterns but would expect it to be possible to follow aircraft down to 1500 at Luton from The Lee or even lower. It is lightweight, connects to a USB connection and includes an aerial. Cost is a moderate £375 plus an extra £10 for next day delivery.  I bought mine from a company called Martin Lynch in Chertsey,Surrrey. I have no connection with this firm. Pilot friends may know of it.
 
It might be of use in allaying fears or even showing that fears are credible. I am sure there is someone who would consider the sum involved a mere bagatelle if it helped prove points and deterred the loss of their property price. I thought that you might be interested in a suggestion from an anorak.


M61merlin@aol.com

6th May
Norman Baker MP Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Transport has tabled a series of Parliamentary Questions on the Government's policy towards the Chilterns.  These are:  

Questions to the Secretary of State for Transport
Norman Baker (Lewes): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the projected change in numbers of flights (a) to and (b) from Luton Airport by 2020 is; what percentage of flights using Luton Airport were domestic in the latest period for which figures are available; and what percentage she expects to be domestic in 2020.
Norman Baker (Lewes): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many additional households in and around the Chiltern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be overflown by flights at 3,000 feet as a result of the Luton Airport flight path changes proposed by National Air Traffic Services.
Norman Baker (Lewes): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate her Department has made of the number of people living in the Chiltern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty who will be affected adversely by the proposed National Air Traffic Services' changes to Luton Airport flight paths; and if she will make a statement.

Norman Baker (Lewes): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment her Department has made of the objections by the Chilterns Conservation Board to the proposed changes to Luton Airport flight paths; and if she will make a statement.

Norman Baker (Lewes): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what environmental guidance her Department has provided to the National Air Traffic Services and the Civil Aviation Authority on the protection of the tranquillity of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty during the current consultation on the Luton, Heathrow and Stansted airport flight paths.
Peter Jones
Chiltern DC member for Ballinger, South Heath & Chartridge

6th May
Success with national press! See Letters page in today's Daily Mail - over 1 million printed very day - at least 2 million readers
 
Marilyn Fletcher
Great Missenden
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5th May
Time is rapidly running out in which to protest about the NATS proposals. There are probably many people who are still unaware of this issue. Has everything possible been done to publicise this in the local press and on the radio? Are there any well known residents in the Chilterns who could lend their voice to the protest?Yesterday I e-mailed Mr Taylor,  listed as chief executive of the national association for AONBs to see what the association is doing about the NATS proposals affecting the Chilterns.  I have not received a reply yet. Has anyone else had any contact or information from the association, and what is the National Trust doing?

A Pummell
South Heath

5th May
Having been involved in two fairly major campaigns against government proposals, one at national level where an entire industry sector became very involved (quite fruitlessly) and another at regional level protesting at changes to hospital configuration along the Sussex coast (very successfully), I find myself a bit of a Johnny-come-lately with regard to the NATS proposals.
 
Having now read the proposals, and read the excellent coverage on The Lee website, I find there is much to be exercised about. I have sent in my protestation to the consultation process (as has my wife, Diana). Previous experience clearly shows that personal arguments won't do the trick, and protestation about impact of house values will have the opposite effect!
 
What really surprises me is that Bucks CC has blindly accepted the proposals, and although they appear to have woken up to this, I see no evidence about what they have submitted to the consultation process to correct this failure on their part.
 
Letters to MPs tend to fall on over-worked ears, and letters to Bucks CC may suffer the same fate. What I have seen work well in the past are large public gatherings where local MPs are required to attend and compelled to respond to the democratic machinery...but democracy must ensure its voice is organised and heard! With organised media attention!
 
What are we doing to hold these officers to our public account?? It will soon be too late.
 
Keith Taylor
Lee Common


4th May
I think we're doing a magnificent job in leafletting as many areas as as possible. I also think we've done very well on the newspaper article front. Personally, I think now is the time for two things:
 
1. Letter writing to the local press to keep the subject alight.
The Bucks Examiner (Chesham based) has given loads of coverage, particularly late March/early April, but we've kept it up since then. The St Leonards meet was covered beforehand, I know.
The Bucks Free Press (High Wycombe based) has given reasonable coverage at the time of the Gt Miss meeting (late March). 
There was good coverage in the Gazette last week, thanks to Sue Yeomans, and I know there will be loads this week covering the Wig meeting.
The Bucks Herald (Aylesbury based) covered the Bucks CC Committee meeting well, judging from their on-line report. We have to keep on thinking of new angles to keep the subject alive if we can, by letter writing (local press will print most letters submitted so the more the merrier) and contacting the relevant journalist for articles.Wouldn't the national press be nice. Letters are more readily accepted by editors if you have something to "hang" them on from a recent article, in my limited experience. A report on noise/lack of exercise/beautiful scenery/threats to the countryside/planes could all be subjects for a letter from one of us to the national press!
 
2. Contact our MPs to make sure they will lobby NATS proposals
I hear, for example, that David Gauke, MP for SW Hertfordshire is doing a splendid job. Our other MPs in the affected areas are
David Lidington (Aylesbury Vale incl. Gt Missenden & Wendover); Cheryl Gillan (Amersham & Chesham); Mike Penning (Hemel Hempstead). What are they doing? Are they aware of their responsibilities to the Chilterns AONB? They, as MPs, have a duty of care to the AONB (Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 para 85.) Our MPs should also protect the Chilterns because of its height. On the Chilterns at 600 to 700 feet above sea level, aircraft flying at the same altitude will sound half as loud again than if they were flying over low lying land at 80 feet above sea level. Michael Nidd says, "There will be a readily discernible increase in perceived loudness on the Chilterns, by about 50%, than if the aircraft were sent to fly over low lying land, simply because on the lower areas the aircraft would be significantly further away."

Marilyn Fletcher
Great Missenden


1st May
We can carry on doing this right up until NATS publish their report on June 22. NATS will still be affected by national media right up until that date, although the consultation finishes on 22 May.

John Fletcher
Great Missenden


1st May
We have 2 meetings in Dunsmore Re:- NATS Thurs 8th May and Thurs 14th May would you be able to send anyone in the know to either of these meetings. We really need to motivate our population to act and in many cases apathy rules !!! We are the highest hamlet in The Chilterns and are finding silence a problem. We are planning a poster campaign at Coombe Hill and the routes to and from there with slogans such as Beware Low Flying Aircraft to come soon! ! Are you able to send an" expert " to either of these meetings to help educate our locals. Many Thanks

Roger Waller
<rogerdunsmore@aol.com>


30th April
With regard to letter writing to the national press it is always a good idea to have something to "hang" your letter on - usually a previous article in the newspaper. At the moment there is sg. very relevant kicking around which is the Quiet Conference held yesterday. The Today Prog on Radio 4 featured it & is looking for reactions from the public - it is on www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/reports/misc/quiet-conference. You can email them on today@bbc.co.uk  Please pass this on. Relevant news fades quickly - so window of opportunity goes.

Marilyn Fletcher
Great Missenden
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29th April
Thanks for highlighting this issue.  So much for 'consultation' that this has so far slipped under most people's radar, ours included. It is typical of this government and it's agencies that they regard rural space as a void into which urban expansion can be encouraged and not a quiet space to be protected.  Typically NATS will only see the easy option of turning the Chilterns into a flightpath as they will deem it full of middle class nimbys.
 
However will this go the way that most 'consultations' seem to go - i.e objections into the bin and the plans go ahead come what may? (Congestion charge, Heathrow expansion, T5 etc. etc). We will add our voices to the protest and expect to buy ear plugs. Many thanks.
 
Simon & Liz Dance
South Heath


29th April
I enjoy my freedom to fly, so have hesitated to criticise the NATS proposals for fear of reasonable accusations of nimbyism and chucking the problem on to someone else.  Also, these coloured flight level pictures are not easy to interpret in terms of real disturbance on the ground.  After all, we are by now immune to the planes circling around the Bovingdon stack for Heathrow arrivals.

I hesitated, until we visited Cliveden at the weekend.  Our enjoyment of the gardens there was significantly impaired by the aeroplanes taking off westwards from Heathrow, climbing and banking towards the Northeast.  Conversations were interrupted and the planes were frankly pretty close.  So I looked in the consultation document for the “current” flight level map for West and Northwest London (Part H, Figure H5), and discovered that Cliveden is probably in the same colour as is proposed for The Lee (above 3000 feet). Except that Cliveden is definitely below 200 feet, so our villages are some 400 feet closer.

As a result of this personal experience, I am now considering making representations, on the grounds that (1) routing along the plain would disadvantage people less by the effects of 500 feet of separation, (2) the broad-brush map colours misrepresent the ground impact for those of us on the hill, so it is assumed by uninvolved readers that impacts are the same as those on the plain and (3) that the combination of the AONB, the pictorial misrepresentation and the 500 feet increase in impact versus people in the plain make a strong case for review of this routing. Keep up the good work

Iain Scotter
Swan Bottom

28th April
Each piece of beauty and tranquility is being eroded by the car and now non-stop low flying planes. I have lived in the Chilterns for over thirty-seven years and have watched with horror at the increase in noise from low flying aircraft and helicopters. What will happen to the beautiful hot air balloons?

Having lived for many years under the direct flight path of Heathrow, when it was impossible to hear a conversation on the telephone until the plane had disappeared, hotly followed by another, our move as a family to the joy of peace and beauty was a transformation  - a new life! Yet again bureaucracy will ride roughshod over our lives unless we fight!

Sheila Weiner
Hastoe

27th April
I've just been reading the various responses to the proposed new flight paths and would like to attach my comments - as sent to NATS and various other places.
 
Joy Mead

Great Missenden


23rd April
County Council Meeting on 24th: Cllr Mike Colston has advised me that in view of the high level of public interest in NATS consultation document, County is trying to allocate a more specific time to raise this issue and will endeavor to schedule it from 11.30 am - 1.00 pm on Thursday morning.
  
Marilyn M. Fletcher
Great Missenden

22nd April
The Wiggington Action Group is holding a meeting in the St Bartholomew’s School Hall, Wigginton, on Tuesday 29th April at 8pm.

Ian Breen
On Behalf of the Wigginton Action Group

21st April
TO ALL CONCERNED RESIDENTS
: turn up with us in silent protest at the Bucks County Council meeting on Thursday 24 April at the Coach House, Green Park, Aston Clinton 10am. You will not be able to speak so bring your own large placards saying:
  
"SAVE THE AONB" and "STOP THE JETS" and "WE LIVE AT 700 FEET".
 
I should think A3 size would be fine, but they could be bigger - I don't know how far we will be from the council.
 
The more residents are present, the more our own councillors will be able to raise the profile of our concerns about flights over the AONB during the meeting (Most councillors present will know nothing of NATS flights because they live elsewhere in the county.)
 
The issue of flights is going to be raised by Cllr Mike Colston. Any point you want raised, bring to the attention of your relevant county councillor - Patricia Birchley or Mike Colston. Any residents of Herts. would be welcome with similar placards.

Fletcher family
Great Missenden 


21st April
PARTOF A LETTER TO BUCKS C.C.

At the St Leonards meeting it became clear that one of the most important factors in protecting the AONB is its height relative to the height of aircraft on NATS proposed flight paths. In addition, the shape of the high ground that forms the Chilterns is important. This is arranged like plateaux, with extensive flat areas at 600-700 feet above sea level. Villages are scattered on this high ground. In contrast the Aylesbury Vale lies at an altitude of 80 feet above sea level.
  
How will aircraft noise be perceived over the Chilterns when compared to a flight path taken over the Aylesbury Vale?
 If NATS plans go ahead, the flight paths which would affect the Chilterns AONB are the SW departures from Luton Airport (both easterly and westerly take-offs). These would fly over the AONB at 3,000-4,000 feet. It is significant that AN AIRCRAFT LEAVING LUTON AIRPORT WILL SOUND HALF AS LOUD AGAIN ON THE CHILTERNS, which lie between 600 and 700 above sea level, AS IT WOULD ON THE AYLESBURY VALE, at 80 feet above sea level. "There will be a readily discernable increase in perceived loudness on the Chilterns, by about 50%, than if they were sent to fly over low lying areas, simply because on the lower areas they'd be significantly further away", says Michael Nidd. Michael Nidd has been involved in aviation for over 10 years. He was one of the speakers at the Great Missenden meeting and is Secretary of the highly respected LLATVCC (London Luton Airport Towns and Villages Communities Committee). For this reason on both scientific and moral grounds, it would be wrong to send aircraft over an area where both residents and visitors will perceive noise 50% louder than if the same aircraft were to fly at the same height above sea level over the Aylesbury Vale.
 
I believe that it is for the above reason that the SW departures currently proposed to fly over the Chilterns AONB should be be re-routed over the Aylesbury Vale. The issue of height/overflying the Chilterns AONB and Council Officer Chris Kenneford's version of Bucks County Council pre-consultation talks with NATS will not go away. It was clear to the audience at the St Leonards meeting that there is a need for transparency here with regard to who said what, when, and to whom.
  
Status of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
NATS say "Government policy will continue to focus on minimising over-flight of more densely populated areas below 7,000 feet. However, where it is possible to avoid over-flight of National Parks and AONBs below this altitude without adding to environmental burdens on more densely populated areas, it clearly makes sense to do so." Bucks County Council is a statutory body, and as such, has a Duty of Care to AONBs (Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 para. 85). This is a further reason why Bucks County Council should reject NATS proposed flight paths over the Chilterns AONB and recommend that they be sent over the Aylesbury Vale.


Fletcher family
Great Missenden 
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17th April
OPEN LETTER TO: David Lidington, MP
Further to the meeting in Gt. Missenden, I wish to make the following observations/objections to the changes proposed:
  • Despite the LHR 3rd runway being some time off if it is built, there seems to have been no liaisons between the two airspace changes proposals which will inevitably impact on each other.
  • The possible alternative route for Luton westerly departures to the north of Wendover that was mentioned at the meeting seems a very good proposition - in terms of moving flight paths away from settlements, the AONB, and also maximising the separation between ground level and flight levels – an increase of 500ft separation over the Aylesbury Vale (at 73m amsl) when compared to 224m amsl over the scarps of the AONB. This equals a difference of at least 17% which is very significant regarding noise pollution. It would also enable a longer flight path hence more distance to climb to a quieter FL.
  • The AONB must be protected for future generations as well as current users, also the wildlife population of the area.
  • The AONB centring around The Lee and Gt. Missenden already suffers huge noise and visual pollution from aircraft that circle in the Bovingdon stack much of the day (and dawn/dusk), as well as the outgoing LHR-North America and Scotland flights.
  • I can see no reason why the Luton outbound flight levels need to be lowered.
  • However the proposed Northolt outbound paths seem to be a positive move.
  • The letter I sent to you on 9/10/2003 suggested the moving of the Bovingdon stack further west – this may be the time to do this freeing up airspace over the AONB. I believe that this move is proposed anyway if the Heathrow 3rd runway is approved. So my suggestion is that the stack move could be expedited allowing Heathrow departures to climb faster and allowing Luton ones to do the same to quieter FLs (as confirmed by BA Cptn Paul Field at the meeting).
  • The UK does not benefit from more flights to the UK – a huge proportion are filled with passengers transiting who never leave the airport secure areas, and therefore contribute nothing to the UK economy except BAA coffers.
Paul Francis
Great Missenden


16th April
I was at the meeting on Monday night at St Leonards regarding the NATS proposals. Obviously, a big noise needs to be made (!) to ensure NATS, CAA and the rest pay attention to our concerns.  There are many of us trying to do that and really appreciate the input of all those who are giving of their time and effort to create a "community voice".
 
One of the suggestions at the meeting was to use the blog page on The Lee website as an area where all concerned parties could input documents, ideas, actions, further meetings etc.
 
For example, Marilyn mentioned that she would put her document (Stop the Jets) on this site for others to copy and circulate.  My neighbour for one is taking her document to a talk he is doing at the W.I. and also to a local hospice which will also be affected.  Could I ask that Marilyn puts a copy of that document on this site.
 
Also, a list was going to be created of all "protestors".  Is this available yet?  Will it be going on this site? [We are awaiting its compilation by the Co-Chairs of the meeting; I will have to check what issues would be involved in publishing the list here.)
 
Best regards and here's hoping our collective efforts will gain the attention of NATS, the government and the people who can make a difference!
 
Carmel Botwright
Bellingdon

16th April
REPLY FROM BUCKS COUNTY COUNCIL

Thank you very much for your e-mail. Let me assure you that as cabinet member I have not agreed any policy with regard to this issue on behalf of the County Council. I am not aware of what any individual officers may or may not have said at working level. As a result of your e-mail and a similar one from Councillor Mike Colston, I am arranging a meeting with Chris Kenneford this week to bring me up to speed with the latest developments.
 
I have also suggested to Mike Colston that he may wish to put a question to full County Council next week which would enable a full debate by all councillors on this issue as it clearly has implications across several areas of Buckinghamshire, not just the AONB.

Martin Tett
Bucks County Council
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15th April
OPEN LETTER TO: Cllr Martin Tett, Strategic Planning, Bucks County Council.
 At the public meeting in St Leonards last night we were given to understand by council officer Chris Kenneford that Bucks CC had been involved at earlier stages in talks with NATS. Could you please tell me:
  1. The date of this/these consultations.
  2. Who took part?
  3. Were minutes taken of the meetings?
Chris Kenneford gave us to understand that Bucks CC had effectively, in these early talks, accepted NATS proposal for the altered SW flightpaths from Luton Airport over the Chilterns AONB. He said "We assumed the planes would be 5,000/6,000 feet high." When my wife, as a member of the audience queried this, he simply repeated himself. I am astounded that the position of the proposed flight paths was accepted by County without first checking the altitudes. Can this be true?
 
Knowing now that the proposed altitude is 3,000-4,000 feet, the audience understood from Mr Kenneford that County had effectively agreed, pre-public consultation, for the flight paths to fly over settlements which lie at 700 feet, i.e. planes would be 2,300 feet up, and within an AONB! Why did it do this? Why did it not immediately object and flag up its opposition?
 
We heard at the meeting that this was apparently in direct contrast with the position taken by Leighton Buzzard Council who made their opposition clear to NATS from the outset.
 
In view of the massive increase in noise and air traffic that the Chilterns would be exposed to if the flight paths went ahead, a member of the audience proposed that county conducts an independent investigation into the number of decibels, numbers of planes and public annoyance caused by the planes in the area. When a member of the panel commented that such an investigation would be too costly, that member of the audience responded that the area is going to suffer massively financially in the value of their properties if the proposed flight paths go ahead. In view of the time constraints imposed by NATS, I would be grateful for your early response."

John Fletcher
Greatt Missenden


15th April 2008
I presume that the proposed flight path for the eastern approach covers both take off and landing according to the prevailing wind conditions but can Paul or anyone give a view of  the current height of the flights now going over us today?  It is a clear day and I have seen a number of planes already flying directly overhead so they seem to be using the new route (and height?) already These are planes landing at Luton so far as I can see and they seem very low even now before the new proposed heights apply. I can see the planes clearly and at least two had their landing gear lowered already as they flew overhead. If these are at the current “higher” heights, which I find it hard to believe, what are they going to be like with the reduced heights? If these are the current flying heights then surely we can measure the current sound levels from the increased Chiltern hills level? My guess is that that, at these heights, there is a very significant difference compared with the Aylesbury plain which,  based on my Chiltern map contours, is 4-500 feet lower, so the effect of the same flight height would be significantly less anyway
 
Michael Jepson

St. Leonards

15th April 2008
A very informative meeting at the village hall last night.  But I got the distinct impression that NATS and the government are going to steam roller this through come hell or high water.  Why NATS consider it a good strategy to fly aircraft at low altitude over an area designated to be of Outstanding Natural Beauty is beyond me to understand.  How can the remaining open spaces that people can enjoy in the South East be blighted by pollution and noise, surely flights should travel over towns and cities where the ambient noise levels are far higher already and there is less perception of the intrusion.  NATS can do a lot better than this and consider the alternatives rather than simple expediency.
I suggest readers also sign up to the petition on the gov website: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ruralpeace/
or should we start another one focussed on the issues facing the Chilterns?
  
Carol Daniel
St Leonards


14th April 2008
I went to the meeting at St  Leonards this evening and picked up one of your excellent leaflets. My name is Marilyn Fletcher and, with my husband, I have been involved in a a similar campaign in our village of Great Missenden. We organised the Great Missenden village meeting, gained a lot of exposure in the Bucks Examiner, carried out a lot of leaflet drops, have written to every parish council likely to be affected from Northchurch to Ibstone, secured the attendance at the GM meeting of the local MP etc but are conscious of so much more needing to be done.

We have not been impressed by some of the more orthodox pressure groups such as the Chiltern Society and are very unhappy with the attitude/connivance of local councils which we detected at the St Leonards meeting.

I formed the distinct impression that Bucks CC had been party, from the outset, to the NATS proposals without due regard to the implications for local taxpayers i.e. NATS suckered the council into its plans ("We did not realise the altitudes NATS were talking about at our meeting with them" said Chris Kenneford, Bucks CC officer, when he said at the meeting tonight that, in early talks with NATS, Bucks CC had been party to the new proposed directions of the flight paths.)
If, and I repeat, if, this is the case, I believe it could offer a distinct opening for pressure. I contrast Bucks CC connivance with NATS with that of Leighton Buzzard Council, recounted by Colin White of Chilterns Conservation Board, who said that Leighton Buzzard Council had kicked up such a fuss that NATS had avoided them in their flight paths on account of it.

I am sure that, if we co-ordinated, we could help each other and broaden awareness of the NATS threat.

Marilyn M. Fletcher
Great Missenden                                                                                                                                                       Top of Page

8th April 2008
Re: Chris Sargeant 4th April
Noise is far more intrusive in a rural environment – NATS cannot simply say that the research doesn’t exist to support a more scientific routing strategy so they will simply ignore this key issue. NATS needs to recognise this is their responsibility and fund it!

The higher an aircraft transits the area the smaller the noise footprint will be. It would appear that it is the heavy longhaul aircraft departing Heathrow northwards that are stopping Luton departures from climbing to higher altitudes. Changes to operational procedures can be made that would ensure there is no conflict; e.g. climbing heavy aircraft departing northwards to 5000ft or even better 6000ft before they accelerate to retract flaps, rather than the current 4000ft. This should allow Luton departures to climb to 4000 or 5000ft immediately. The position of the Bovingdon Stack could also be changed so it also doesn’t interfere with Luton or Heathrow departures. There would also be an overall net financial benefit as the more quickly an aircraft climbs the lower its fuel burn.

Paul Field
Lee Common


7th April 2008
I have tried to follow the arguments relating to the latest paranoia over changes to flight routings. If 50 million persons come to the Chilterns each year I imagine some must come by air. Too many visitors? Tax them for coming. A charge for entry to the ANOB.  Why not as a committee say that you and your fellow concerned colleagues are resolved not to fly. By reducing demand the expansion of air travel could be contained. I realise it might make it difficult to maintain second homes abroad, but it would show leadership. Holiday arrangements may need to change from the gite in France and sunshine on the Costas. Lincs is cheap, Skegness or Mablethorpe is bracing. Try and sell that idea to the inhabitants of Chesham who you say would appreciate additional aircraft noise. They are not CPRE members. I enjoy the same emotive NIMBY arguments that arise over any change. That "thousands will be lost over house prices" a  usual CPRE argument - the very same houses which when up for sale however highlight the convenience of the closeness of transport links to local airports. I know that quite a high proportion of pilots live out this way.

Perhaps because I have lived in the area for many years and have a keen interest in aviation I have noticed the noise changes over the past years. Aircraft have undoubtedly become quieter and more efficient albiet there are more of them. When I moved to the Chilterns BAC 1-11's, Tridents and 727's were very noisy and they flew at lower altitudes. Quieter jets have taken their place together with noise abatement measures. Newer jets now and in the future  will be quieter still. Thank you for the entertainment.

M61merlin@aol.com

4th April 2008
I have read with interest and concern the article on the web site re NATS proposals and possible increased intrusion by aircraft noise in our area - does your pilot colleague have any suggestions as to what alternative strategy might be suggested to mitigate the disturbance ? Could aircraft simply fly higher as presumably they do now?  Is the reduced height mainly a cost saving measure ?
 
I would like to have some useful suggestion to make when passing my own comments to NATS as merely huffing and puffing on a "not in my backyard" basis will achieve nothing. Any suggestions will be welcome.

Chris Sargeant
Hyde Heath

3rd April 2008
We endorse the serious concern about the revised aircraft proposals not only because, in this area, we are approx 800 feet above sea level compared with the present fly-over locations but because of the lower flight heights which will make this AONB area noisy and unattractive to residents and visitors.

Surely, with rapidly expanding developed areas all over this region so that the remaining open and AONB areas are diminishing in size and nature, there is greater need to protect an area where people can visit and appreciate nature and the surroundings in relative peace and quiet without comparatively low flying planes criss crossing with incresed take off noise.

In the built up areas, where we have lived before we realised and accepted that there is no real peace and quiet anyway because of traffic and other suburban noises so that noise is something which is more expected and accepted compared with the country, particularly an area which is already several hundred feet nearer the planes in the first place.

You can add my name and that of my wife to any protest numbers

Michael and Susan Jepson 
St. Leonards

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