Lesley Laird MP – Full Letter to CAA – Edinburgh Airport Flight Path Consultation flawed

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Flight path consultation flawed says Lesley Laird Mp

Richard Moriarty

Chief Executive

Civil Aviation Authority

CAA House

45-59 Kingsway



25 July 2018

Dear Mr Moriarty

I am writing directly following my meeting with Stuart Lindsey and Will Nathan on Tuesday 17th July.

At this meeting they suggested I set out why I believe Edinburgh Airport Limited’s (EAL) consultation process has been flawed and ineffective and has not met with relevant principles and processes.  I am particularly concerned about the consultation process surrounding the Route E proposals – which would introduce a new flight path over Fife – and, specifically, the most recent consultation process for the E7a flight path proposal.  This is now the third time EAL has consulted on the Route E proposals.

Stuart and Will advised that the consultation process would be assessed against the Gunning Principles and the UK Government’s Consultation Principles for 2018.  I have therefore set out my response against these principles for your consideration.

The Gunning Principles
  1. When proposals are still at a formative stage – consulting organisation need to have an open mind during a consultation and not already made the decision, but have some ideas about the proposals.
Overview – Route E is now on the third proposal but it continues to propose flights that fly over residential areas in Fife where there is an option to fly further east to either avoid or mitigate impacts on residential areas – as called for repeatedly by impacted communities.  The latest flight path proposal (E7a) would bring flights even closer to residential areas and therefore appears to demonstrate EAL is not listening to concerns via previous rounds of consultation.
EAL has proposed three variations of the Route E flight path (initially E6, then E7 and now E7a) which continue to impact residents in Aberdour, Dalgety Bay, Fordell, Inverkeithing, North Queensferry and surrounding areas.

This has generated significant complaints, as shown in the previous rounds of consultation, at a public meeting and in correspondence, which I received into my office.

Nevertheless, the Route E proposal has moved closer to these residential areas following EAL’s initial submission to the CAA.  Aberdour Community Council has proposed a flight path that requires planes to fly further east and over the Forth to miss areas such as Dalgety Bay altogether, or to gain enough height before coming back over land to cause less noise disruption.  I have been copied into various submissions to EAL’s most recent consultation process and I know this has been widely supported.

However, EAL do not appear to have considered this option seriously.  This alternative flight path proposal has been suggested throughout the consultation process- and particularly at the last stage when flight path 7a was the focus.

EAL has stated to me directly that it cannot put forward this proposal to the CAA because it cannot propose flight paths which increase track mileage, fuel burn or fuel consumption.  However, I feel a potential slight increase should be strongly weighed against the impact and cost of disruption on communities living under the proposed flight path.  Therefore, I believe EAL should put this forward to the CAA as a significant suggestion from the consultation.

Unfortunately, so far, I believe for commercial reasons EAL has already made a decision on flights coming over Fife and has not been open minded to flying out further east over the Forth as requested by the public.

EAL is currently analysing and collating its most recent consultation responses and, on receipt of these, I may provide further responses to you.

Sufficient reasons for proposals to permit ‘intelligent consideration’ – people involved in the consultation need to have enough information to make an intelligent choice and input in the process.  Equality Assessments should take place at the beginning of the consultation and be published alongside the document. Overview – There have been repeated complaints made by impacted communities about the content of the consultation documents being unclear and missing out significant pieces of information.  This was continually raised during the most recent consultation process for the E7a flight path proposal.

The way in which information is written and presented to impacted communities must be understandable to the lay person and readers must be able to determine what is being proposed and the impact it will have on them.  It also relies on accurate data being presented in a meaningful way.  EAL has consistently failed to do this.

Specifically, there are important areas were the information provided by EAL has been deemed as insufficient by the local monitoring group representative as well as from community councils i.e. flight heights, the frequency of planes flying this route, how much noise these planes will make, vectoring and mitigation measures.  I have also received correspondence for constituents setting out similar concerns.

EAL held a public meeting – at my request – and were unable to answer the questions put to them by the impacted communities.

A number of constituents have raised concerns about a lack of detailed assessments on the health implications of flying over these populated areas.  There have been concerns raised over the accessibility of the 270-page Environmental Impact Assessment undertaken by Ricardo Energy & Environment, and as a result, calls for the organisation to answer questions.  EAL held a ‘Drop in Session’ on 14 June, which featured representatives from Ricardo.  However, this was not communicated as part of EAL’s original mailing letter regarding the consultation on Route E7a – this event should have been booked and advertised from the beginning of the process.  EAL then conducted a Facebook question and answer session with Ricardo but failed to deal with all questions and again excluded anyone without Facebook access.  Therefore, many questions remain unanswered in the area.

In addition, I have received repeated complaints from my constituents that they had not been made aware of this most recent round of the consultation process on proposed flight path E7a.   Despite the new route potentially impacting Aberdour, Dalgety Bay, Fordell, Hillend, Inverkeithing, North Queensferry and Limekilns, only Dalgety Bay, Inverkeithing and North Queensferry were informed about the new consultation.  If people are unaware of the process, they are unable to access the information and make submissions.

Impacted communities do not feel they have received enough consistent and easy to access information and when asked for further information, EAL have been unable to provide in an easy to access manner.

3. Adequate time for consideration and response timing is crucial – is it an appropriate time and environment, was enough time given for people to make an informed decision and then provide that feedback, and is there enough time to analyse those results and make the final decision? Overview – there were repeated calls for the latest consultation on the E7a flight path proposal, to be extended however these calls were declined.

Due to public demand, I repeatedly asked EAL to extend the latest consultation period to allow time for:

  • All unanswered questions to EAL to be responded to.
  • A public meeting where impacted communities could put their questions about the processes and requirements of the CAA directly to the organisation as well as health and environmental questions to Ricardo Energy & Environment, the consultancy firm that carried out the Environmental Impact Assessments.
  • Noise monitors to be installed in impacted communities so that noise levels can be accurately monitored both before and after any changes.

I accept that EAL did extend this consultation period by one week following a call from me and community representatives, however that only gave impacted communities five weeks – from 24 May to 28 June – to access the information, process it and respond.  Again, many impacted communities were not made aware of the consultation during that period.

Although EAL did extend the initial consultation by one week – after much pressure from my office – they did not update the consultation closing date on their website until the original date it was set to close (21 June).  We had to advise EAL of this error and requested for this to be changed.  This could have prevented a number of individuals and organisations from responding.

A number of constituents have complained to my office that they did not receive documents from EAL in adequate time, if at all.  As above, this could have prevented a number of individuals and organisation from responding.

Some areas – such as Aberdour in my constituency – were not deemed as an impacted community by EAL and so did not receive any of the consultation information or materials.  The residents in this area would very much disagree with this assessment.  After the public meeting, I requested that EAL place boxes of consultation booklets in Aberdour, Dalgety Bay and Rosyth libraries as well as putting boxes into the Fordell community.  These were not in place until the 18 June – only ten days before the consultation closed.

4. Must be conscientiously taken into accountthink about how to prove decision-makers have taken consultation responses into account.

Based on previous consultations, communities do not believe they are being actively listened to.

We now await the output from the latest consultation.

UK Government Consultation Principles 2018
Consultations should be clear and concise There have been repeated complaints made about the content of the consultation documents being unclear and inconsistent.

See above table for more information.

Consultations should have a purpose
Consultations should be informative There have repeated complaints made about the content of the consultation documents missing significant pieces of information.

EAL held a public meeting – at my request – and they were unable to answer the questions put to them by the impact communities.

See above table for more information.

Consultations are only part of a process of engagement EAL only held a public meeting for the most recent consultation on E7a following pressure from my office.

EAL did one drop-in session and one Facebook Live session.  These were poorly advertised with many people complaining they received notification after the initial event took place.

Consultations should last for a proportionate amount of time Five weeks was not enough time for all questions to be answered and for people to make a formal submission, particularly when many impacted communities were not made aware of the consultation.

It was also not enough time for all impacted communities to fully digest the information.

Booklets were only placed in all requested libraries on the 18 June – this was just ten days before the consultation ended.

Consultations should be targeted Key communities missed out – Aberdour, Fordell, Hillend and Limekilns.
Consultations should take account of the groups being consulted The cycle of Community Councils meetings was not taken into account and so were not in keeping with the consultation period making it difficult for Community Councils to effectively engage.
Consultation should be agreed before publication
Consultation should facilitate scrutiny Key experts were not on hand to answer questions at the public meeting and other options to engage with them were very limited and poorly advertised.
Government responses to consultations should be published in a timely fashion
Consultation exercises should not generally be launched during local and national election periods

I would appreciate if you could officially consider the issues I have raised about Edinburgh Airport Limited’s consultation process.

Yours sincerely

Lesley Laird MP

cc Will Nathan, External Relations Lead

Stuart Lindsey, Manager Airspace Regulation

From Lesley Laird MP

John Smith Business Centre, 1 Begg Road, Kirkcaldy KY2 6HD

Tel     01592 724129          Email     lesley.laird.mp@parliament.uk

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Lesley Laird MP Claims airport flight path consultation “flawed from day one” The altered flight path sparks anger amongst affected communities, which include Aberdour, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay and North Queensferry.

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