This week I spoke in the Scottish Parliament in a member’s debate brought forward by my colleague Neil Findlay MSP.
Mr Findlay had table the following motion for debate:
Motion S5M-04708: Neil Findlay, Lothian, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 20/03/2017
Flawed Airport Consultation
That the Parliament notes what it sees as the growing concerns about Edinburgh Airport’s plan to introduce new flight paths; understands that around 120 people attended the latest in a series of public meetings in Livingston to voice their opposition; believes that a number of flaws within the consultation have been identified, including the lack of inclusion of a health impact assessment of the proposed changes to airspace use since 2014, despite a number of residents reporting mental and physical health effects due to increased noise over their homes, the lack of evidence for the assertion that 25,000 fewer properties will be overflown as a result of the changes, that Winchburgh and East Calder residents were informed through the first consultation that they would not be affected by any proposed changes but have since found that they will be affected by new plans, and the use of outdated census data from 2011 as the basis for the consultation, and notes calls for the Scottish Government to urge the Civil Aviation Authority to demand that Edinburgh Airport scraps what is considered this flawed consultation and begins the process again with up-to-date information and a more robust and credible consultation process.
I was disappointed that the SNP Government Minister seems to acknowledge that the consultation to date has been fatally flawed but is basically saying that it is nothing to do with him and instead the arguments should be made to the airport authorities.
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats also acknowledge the process has been flawed but do not want to stop it or re-run it, they simply think the authorities should take cognisance of peoples concerns and try to address them within the consultation.
I am clear that the process is flawed beyond repair and should be halted now. A new consultation should be set up that addresses all the issues that have been raised.
I do not accept what the Minister says when he claims that it is nothing to do with him. I have written to him making clear that he has a duty, and a responsibility, to the people on both sides of the Forth to step in and demand this flawed consultation is stopped and stopped now.
You can see the whole debate by clicking here.
Below is the speech I made and the video of my speech.
Transcript of speech:
I, too, thank my colleague Neil Findlay for bringing to the chamber this important debate on the Edinburgh airport flight path consultation. I must say at the outset that I believe that, such is the public concern over the proposals, and such is the belief that the consultation is flawed, full of contradictions, lacking vital information and misleading, that there is no public confidence in the consultation. The Government must step in and put a stop to the process, and tell the airport authorities to begin again.
I have been contacted by constituents from across Fife, who have all voiced their concerns and highlighted the flaws in the consultation process. There has been a disregard for the potential health impacts on the communities that would be affected. Major changes appear to have been made to the original proposals, yet those who would be most impacted by the changes were never informed of them.
I have raised my concerns on the issue publicly since the consultation was launched in order to draw it to the attention of local people so that they would be aware of it and would be able to examine the likely impact of the proposals on their communities. In the short time that I have available today, I will highlight a few of the many concerns that people have raised with me.
A constituent from North Queensferry was concerned that she had not been informed of changes to the proposals. She said:
“Similar to Winchburgh, North Queensferry was not expected to be affected by the proposed changes, but is now due to be directly overflown by two separate routes, with separate wind directions such that it will be overflown every single day of the year if the proposed changes go ahead.”
One constituent raised concerns for Dalgety Bay, pointing out that:
“The combined impact of these new routes means that there would be aircraft over or near Dalgety Bay 365 days a year compared with only 69 days at present. With the addition of Route D0 this is around a further 15,000 flights per year by 2023. There will be no trial and little recourse for residents to change flight paths once in place.”
On the actual consultation document, one couple had this to say:
“The consultation document itself is severely flawed. It is not at all clear what the flight frequencies will be, nor what noise levels mean or even clear what heights what types of planes will fly at. There is no environmental impact assessment in terms of health impacts, wildlife impact or economic impact and the inconsistent and incomplete information in technical jargon does not allow any confident consideration”.
They go on to say:
“There have been no trial periods to test presented impacts against reality so the presentation as is, is based on technical guesswork.”
There is a severe flaw in the process, given that residents received a letter when the first consultation document came out in summer 2016 but were not notified that there was a second document—they have still not been informed about that by Edinburgh airport. The public have no confidence in the consultation, and it is time that the airport authorities and the transport minister listened to the widespread concern coming from both sides of the Forth. The minister must bring the consultation to an end. There is no other sensible way to proceed—it is the right thing to do.