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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 15:01 GMT
Air space consultation 'flawed'
Air traffic control tower
NATS says there is more peak traffic than existing air routes can handle
An MP from the south says that the consultation process for a new air route over areas of natural beauty is flawed and should be re-opened.

He told parliament there were 500 objections but the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) plan remains unchanged.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is to make a decision on the application.

The new route will take aircraft over Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the North Wessex Downs AONB, and the New Forest National Park.

NATS said it needed to open a north/south air route to ease congestion on its east/west corridor that is used by flights from Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

'Impenetrable' language

Sir George Young, MP for Hampshire North West, told Parliament on Monday night that there were concerns over noise and impact on the AONB and the New Forest.

There were also concerns about the consultation process, the "impenetrable" language of the consultation documents, and inadequate information on the reason behind the proposal.

NATS said there were more planes than the current airspace could handle at peak times resulting in airport delays of 15,000 minutes per year.

Sir George said this was an average of 10 seconds per plane per year and NATS failed to provide other options on how to reduce the delays.

"I believe that the minister should tell the CAA that he is not satisfied with this exercise, and that NATS should go back to the drawing board.

"There is no urgency about this, and no critical issue of safety," he added.

He also said that NATS did not consult parish councils but "sub-contracted" the job to MPs and never followed through to ensure the information had been "cascaded" as requested.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Jim Fitzpatrick said the CAA is to take a decision in January.

However, he said if the CAA believes that the proposal might have a "significant detrimental effect on the environment" then it will be referred to the secretary of state for transport for a final decision.

SEE ALSO
MP argues against new air routes
19 Nov 07 |  England

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