Runway revamp noise set to annoy thousands of sleepers

THOUSANDS of homes in south Edinburgh are facing months of overnight aircraft noise because of a £16 million runway resurfacing project at the city's airport.

The eight-month scheme will see Edinburgh Airport's main runway closed between 11pm and 5.45am, with flights diverted on to the secondary runway.

This means that most weekend night flights will approach over southwest Edinburgh and parts of Midlothian, instead of coming into land from over the Forth and Cramond. The usual take-off flightpath – over Newbridge and Livingston – will also be changed overnight, with aircraft heading north-west towards Bo'ness instead.

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The work also involves temporarily downgrading the runway's landing lights, meaning the airport could be forced to close altogether in the event of fog.

Because of this risk, airport bosses have chosen March 30 as a start date so that most work takes place during lighter summer nights. They stressed today that the main runway will still be used as normal during the day.

Around 18 aircraft – mostly cargo and mail flights – use the airport between 11pm and 6am on an average night.

The runway was last resurfaced in 1991, when the airport handled five times fewer passengers and a total of 56,000 flights – compared to the 126,000 expected this year.

Kevan Jamieson, who is leading the resurfacing project, said the work should not overrun into the airport's busy morning period.

"We are all really looking forward to actually going ahead with this after all the planning," he said.

"There are huge challenges in getting 150 men on the runway, getting floodlights set up and making sure everything is running like clockwork in the short window that we have.

"It will be a bit like the Le Mans-style race in terms of the different sections of work that will need to be completed."

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The project – to be carried out on Sunday-Friday nights – will involve over 150 workers and more than 130,000 man hours. More than 25,000 tonnes of new asphalt will be laid down and over 1000 runway lights will be replaced.

The new runway should last for at least ten years and is part of BAA's long-term plan for Edinburgh, according to airport managing director David Johnston.

He said: "Our runway is entirely safe to use at the moment, but these works are essential if we are to ensure the continued success of Edinburgh Airport, now Scotland's busiest airport."

Information leaflets on the project are being sent out to 45,000 households, and community drop-in sessions will be held throughout the Lothians at which airport staff will be on hand to provide more information and answer and questions from residents.

Mr Johnston said: "We have made every effort to minimise the disturbance to local residents. However, if people do have concerns about the project, we would ask that they get in touch with us or drop in to one of our community meetings. They can also call our free phone noise hotline, 0800-731 3397."