18th November 2014

NATS ignores local residents objections to flight path changes

When NATS first proposed changes to Stansted flight paths in June, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said that there must be clear and compelling benefits for local residents before any changes were implemented. NATS received over 400 responses to its consultation and more than 82% of those who expressed a view objected to the proposed changes in Stansted’s flight paths.

NATS has now published its Feedback Report claiming that “the package of net operational and environmental benefits presents a compelling case for change”. However, SSE’s analysis of the report shows a very different picture.

First, NATS claims there would be significant savings in carbon emissions but NATS only counts reduced CO2 on take-off and ignores the rest of the flight as well as all the other flights operating at Stansted. When this is taken into account, the CO2 saving is less than 1% and would therefore be easily negated by a small increase in traffic.

Second, NATS claims that the proposed changes would reduce flight delays. However, NATS does not say what improvement would be achieved, so no assessment can be made about the claimed benefit. Suffice to say that the latest figures published by NATS show that the average delay per flight is only 1.6 seconds,

Third, NATS admits that more people would be overflown more intensively compared to the number of people who would be overflown less. However NATS tries to obfuscate this fact by introducing a weighting factor for a change in runway direction which ignores the real life situation for communities living near the airport. A local resident either lives under a flight path or he/she doesn’t live under a flight path. A variation in runway use does not reduce the locations and the number of people overflown.

Furthermore, NATS has not acknowledged that night flight departure routes would remain the same. Since the Government has said that noise from aircraft at night is widely regarded as the least acceptable aspect of aircraft operations, it is wholly irresponsible not to include the fact that people living under the Dover departure route would still be overflown at night significantly reducing the effect of NATS’ claim that flights on the Dover route would become “negligible”.

SSE Noise Adviser Martin Peachey commented: “Despite overwhelming local opposition, NATS seems determined to implement these Stansted flight path changes, which would mean misery for local residents. The NATS consultation showed that 82% of all respondents who expressed a view were opposed to the proposed changes but this has clearly not been enough.”

SSE says that it is not prepared to accept this situation lying down and if NATS won’t listen to the local community, we need to press the CAA to look at this whole issue afresh. SSE will very soon publish advice on its website on how best to do this.



NATS Consultation Feedback Report for the Departure Route Proposals at London Stansted Consultation is available here.

SSE’s position on the NATS proposals is set out in our press releases of 18 June 2014, 18 August 2014 and 15 September 2014.


Martin Peachey, SSE Noise Adviser – T 01279 870374; M 07803 603999; mfpeachey1@gmail.com
SSE Campaign Office, T 01279 870558; info@stanstedairportwatch.com

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits