EDINBURGH Airport is to halt its controversial trial of a new flight path.
The airport has bowed to growing pressure from campaigners and will stop the trial over West Lothian at the end of October – cutting it short by two months.
Chief executive Gordon Dewar admitted the airport had been overwhelmed with complaints about the trial route over Broxburn, Uphall, Dechmont and Blackness – areas which were not flown over by existing routes.
Mr Dewar also said a letter from Transport Minister Derek Mackay asking if the trial could be shortened had also influenced the decision.
He made the announcement at a packed public meeting in Broxburn last night, which saw emotions run high among residents who have been affected by flights since June.
He apologised for the airport’s lack of consultation about the trial before flights started.
“We have listened to the communities under the trial flight path and their representatives,” he said. “Derek Mackay has written to me asking if the trial can be shortened once the necessary data has been gathered.
“We will therefore be suspending the trial on October 28. This will allow us to do more work and data gathering whilst responding to feedback from local communities.
“We still have work to do on aircraft tracking and how tight the corridor can be. It is clear that the two-mile bandwith is widening the impact zone and I would like to see that reduced.
“We will also increase the number of noise monitors in use over the final six weeks to allow us to accelerate the data gathering in this area.”
He added: “I’m aware I’m not the most popular man in Broxburn tonight but part of the trial is to understand the impact. Being overflown by aircraft is not enjoyable but we were looking at the least worst impact.
“But on consultation I do apologise. We have learned a lesson on that one.”
The airport has come under heavy criticism for launching the trial without consulting with residents living in the affected areas – although it has always said that it has stayed within Civil Aviation Authority guidelines. While the decision to halt the trial early was welcomed by campaigners, they said they would fight any intention to introduce the flight path permanently if the airport’s data suggested it was a workable route.
Helena Paul, of Blackness and part of the Stop Edinburgh Airpath Trial campaign (Seat) said: “I am pleased about it but I’m really worried about what might happen next.
“I am concerned that they could just do this again. I live in an area of tranquility.”