I am writing to you to update you on my work on your behalf regarding the flight path trial from Edinburgh Airport.
I met with Airport Management in early June to find out more about the proposed flight path before it started and to question what it meant for my constituents. I have been extremely disappointed to learn that the flight I was shown via a simulator at that time which flew over Pumpherston and then between Ochiltree and Philipstoun appears to differ significantly to the actual trial flight path which is causing much disruption and particular distress to residents across Dechmont, Uphall, parts of Broxburn Springfield in Linlithgow, Bridgend and Blackness.
I made my feelings on this abundantly clear to the Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport when I met with him on Wednesday, 9th September in my office in Parliament where I also relayed the many concerns, questions and experiences of my constituents to him.
I questioned if they needed the flight path in the first place and what evidence they had for this. They are arguing that it is the early morning peak time flights that need the slots. I made a point of highlighting the importance of positive communications, not only to the affected residents but also to elected representatives when explaining projects and to local media to ensure the information is out there for the public to be aware of and to ensure it is accurate. I asked for information on flight deviation which Mr Dewar agreed to tighten up as much as possible. He also admitted that the Airport had not anticipated that the towns that are currently experiencing the highest level of disruption (Uphall and Broxburn) would be affected and agreed to look into the monitoring of sound levels and tracking more closely, to ensure that aircraft stick strictly to the proposed route.
I asked Mr Dewar to examine other potential flight paths coming out of Edinburgh Airport, e.g. heading immediately south over the Pentlands, which would cause less disruption. He said that the current route makes the smallest impact on resident disruption and the immediate south route would affect residents over the more populated Livingston.
Mr Dewar and his Director of Communications acknowledged the need to respond more effectively to affected constituents and have agreed to create a new ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section on their website to respond to the very specific queries that residents have been asking while the trial continues. I have already collated a list of questions from those that my constituents have sent me and will be handing this over to Mr Dewar to ensure that as many of your queries as possible will be addressed.
I was also able to hand over a petition to them when we met in Parliament that was given to me by hundreds of residents in the western side of Uphall so that they could add these names to their list of complainants.
I was pleased to hear Derek MacKay, the Scottish Government Transport Minister tell the chamber on Thursday 10th September that he agreed with our concerns on the lack of communication from Edinburgh Airport and that he will write to the Chief Executive asking that they stop the trial early as soon as they have the data they require. The Scottish Government does not have responsibility for aviation powers which are reserved to Westminster. Mr Dewar also agreed to another meeting once they have the necessary data to discuss the project as it progresses.
I am concerned though that Mr Dewar indicated that it was possible to go straight from trial to consultation and continue the flights on the new flight path. I told them this was unacceptable and I will work with my Westminster colleague Hannah Bardell MP to pursue the CAA on this issue. This apparently is a recent change to CAA approach.
I would continue to advise my constituents to make contact with Edinburgh Airport to report any incidents. I believe it is important for their data collecting that you continue to alert them each time you feel the noise is unacceptable so that they can pinpoint the exact flight you are referring to. For those who have not yet done this, I would encourage you to lodge any complaints you have by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thank you for continuing to send me your views on the matter and I look forward to seeing you at the Public Meeting next Wednesday the 16th of September.
Fiona Hyslop MSP