Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, is demanding more information about the impact on Wheathampstead of planned changes to the flight paths of aircraft using Luton Airport.

    He said: “I asked National Air Traffic Services, who control Britain’s air space, if the proposals meant residents of Wheathampstead would suffer more aircraft noise, but they did not answer my specific questions. Instead, they gave me figures drawn from their existing consultation document. I have already described this as ‘thoroughly opaque’.

    “The current flight path is broad and covers Wheathampstead – though the centre is over Harpenden. According to the NATS document, there are currently over four flights an hour going down the existing broad air corridor, only a fraction of which would fly over Wheathampstead. The proposed new flight path is much narrower and only covers the south east tip of Wheathampstead but its centre is nearer the village than before. By the time the new route comes in it is expected that more than five flights an hour would use the narrower flight path. So it is difficult to tell what the net impact on residents will be.

    “We do not need alarmist scares about overflying, unnecessarily distressing local residents, but we do need hard facts and credible information.

    “In order to assess the impact of the proposals, we need to know how many planes currently fly over Wheathampstead and their average height, together with the equivalent figures assuming the new flight path was in operation and some estimates of the noise footprint they will leave on the village.

    “According to NATS, there were no complaints about aircraft noise from Wheathampstead in the last quarter and that ties in with my own postbag. It may well be that the new route would cause equally little disturbance. If NATS provided some concrete estimates for how many planes would pass over the village they might well allay local concerns. There is no point in having a consultation if people are not given the information they need to come to a balanced judgement.

    “I shall continue pressing NATS to provide that information.”