Fears over flight path changes

Readers' news
Readers' news

Plans to change the flight paths of planes flying in and out of Farnborough Airport would have a significant impact on the South Downs National Park, says the National Park Authority.

In a response to the TAG Farnborough Airport’s proposed changes the SDNPA states that it ‘cannot support these proposals which will ultimately result in more aircraft flying at lower altitudes over sensitive areas, impacting on National Park purposes and special qualities including tranquillity and amenity’.

TAG Farnborough Airport’s plans include: changing departure and arrival routes to the airport; aircraft holding patterns; and airspace at low altitude.

Margaret Paren, chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “We are very disappointed that the CAA has failed to consult us directly about these plans which threaten the tranquillity, wildlife and recreational value for which the National Park’s landscapes were given special protected status. We are urging the CAA to reconsider these changes, particularly as the outcome of the recent London Airspace Consultation may well render these changes unnecessary.”

The South Downs National Park lies in one of the most busy and pressured parts of the country but is highly valued by the people who make 46 million visits to it every year for its sense of peace and tranquillity.

Being among the sights and sounds of nature has an important role to play in quality of life and people’s health and well-being. Commercial air traffic flying at lower altitudes than currently permitted would increase noise and disturbance in the National Park and reduce this tranquillity. It could also force other non Farnborough aircraft into even lower altitudes making the problem worse.

The National Park is also important as a space for recreation, including gliding. The Farnborough proposals would severely restrict the activities of local gliding clubs, their employees and the benefits their users bring to the local economy. Other recreational aviation activity including microlight flying, paragliding and ballooning in the South Downs National Park would also be negatively affected by these proposals.

Finally the SDNPA has expressed concerns about the impact of resulting noise and disturbance on wildlife in the National Park, particularly in the six areas designated as priority habitat for protected species which would be flown over at less than 3,280 feet. General guidance from Natural England, the government’s advisor on nature conservation, is that sensitivity to disturbance of designated sites is generally more pronounced below this altitude.

Report contributed by the South Downs National Park Authority.