Greer raises community and expansion concerns in response to Glasgow Airport flightpaths consultation
Green MSP for the West of Scotland, Ross Greer, has raised concerns about disruption to communities and the prospect of climate-damaging expansion in his response to Glasgow Airport’s flightpaths consultation.
Changes to Glasgow Airport’s departure flightpaths have been proposed as a result of advances in navigation technology. The proposals will see more planes following stricter paths, which turn earlier and follow different routes to the existing flightpaths. These changes will have a particular effect on people in Uplawmoor in East Renfrewshire, Bearsden and Bishopbriggs, both in East Dunbartonshire.
In his response, Ross highlighted some of the concerns he’d heard from constituents, particularly regarding the number of schools overflown towards the start of the flightpaths when noise would be most disruptive. Concern was also raised about whether these changes are intended to allow for increased capacity, which would be at odds with Scotland’s climate change targets.
Ross has encouraged Glasgow Airport to address such concerns during the route refinement process, saying;
“Changes to increase fuel efficiency and decrease the impact on communities are welcome but changes which in any way are intended to increase capacity are not. That would be incompatible with our commitments to tackling the climate crisis.
“Following the conclusion of this consultation, I hope that Glasgow Airport will take on board the issues raised by residents across the region, and put their needs and Scotland’s climate change obligations at the centre of the route refinement process.”
Ross’ full consultation response;
In terms of the general content and presentation of the consultation, it was overly-technical and focussed primarily on justifying the changes in those terms rather than on clearly explaining the effect they may have on the surrounding communities. This was a concern I heard widely voiced when attending the Bearsden drop-in event in March.
Even constituents with technical and engineering backgrounds have contacted me to say they found the consultation difficult to follow. Some degree of complexity is unavoidable given the subject, but more effort should be made to produce consultation documents accessible to the general public.
Understandably, a number of the issues constituents have raised with me relate to the potential of suddenly finding their home of many years is now under a flightpath. Residents in areas such as Kessington in Bearsden, the Mains Estate in Milngavie, and in Bishopbriggs are worried that the proposals for FLEMN as they currently stand will result in a significant increase in noise throughout the day.
There’s a distinct need for further clarity on why the ALEXE flightpath passes directly over Uplawmoor, particularly given that this is the busiest of the Runway 23 flightpaths. There are substantial stretches of open country to either side of the village. The reference to “design criteria” precluding an earlier turn that would take it to the east of Uplawmoor is incredibly vague.
Similarly, although an adjustment to the West is argued to have have knock-on effects on BURNS and thus the much more populous areas of Kilbirnie and Beith, planes are expected to be at least 1000ft higher at that point, and to be far less frequent – is it absolutely certain that the net effect of that change would result in more disruption than current proposals?
There are also significant concerns about the number of schools that the proposed flightpaths are in the vicinity of, particularly along the ROWLY flightpath. Castlehill Primary School lies directly under the flight path, at a point at which noise levels of 80 dB(A) or more would not be uncommon, especially during the first hour of the school day when the number of flights on that route is expected to peak.
St Andrew’s Primary, Bearsden Academy, Baljaffray Primary School and Nursery, and Douglas Academy (a music school) also lie close to the portion of the flight path where planes haven’t yet reached 2000ft. Even a slightly sharper turn to the West for this path, if possible, would put significant distance between planes and these schools. Similar concerns have been raised about the proposed FLEMN flightpath passing near Boclair Academy at a similar height.
I appreciate, as do the constituents who have contacted me, that changing technology does mean that some changes to the flightpaths are necessary. However, they must be done as sensitively as possible, and they must be done for the right reasons. It’s welcome that consideration has been given during the design of these flightpaths to a reduction in carbon emissions, but I’m concerned that positive change may be undermined by a drive to increase the overall number of flights.
Not only would that possibly negate the envisioned reduction or even result in a net increase to emissions, it would represent a departure from what has been presented to the public in this consultation. Proposals predicated on, for example, less than four flights per hour might prove just about acceptable – if this was to increase it would be a considerable additional disruption. Changes to increase fuel efficiency and decrease the impact on communities are welcome but changes which in any way are intended to increase capacity are not. That would be incompatible with our commitments to tackling the climate crisis.
Following the conclusion of this consultation, I hope that Glasgow Airport will take on board the issues raised by residents across the region, and put their needs and Scotland’s climate change obligations at the centre of the route refinement process.