CAA Intervention requested on Flight Path Issues

Letter Below sent to Edinburgh Airport, CAA,  and ICO yesterday Thursday, 28th June 2018 by Charles Litster (Human Rights and Equalities Campaigner)

Subject: Edinburgh Airport – Flightpath E7A consultatio – request to CAA to extend consultation

Dear ICO, CAA and Edinburgh Airport

Open Letter: Request to extend the Consultation Period for the Edinburgh Airport E7A Flight Path Consultation – It currently closes today 28th June – Consultation ends at 11:59pm

From this note you will see that the current consultation has been done quickly and I am asking that the current process is brought to a halt and a more structured consultation takes place.  A consultation based on current recommended Good Practice and 2018 Guidelines, as opposed to the out of date guidelines Edinburgh Airport staff are using.

If this was an EU regulation, it would be mandatory to use the 2018 guidelines.

It was late on Thursday 24th May 2018, on the eve of General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into play throughout the UK.  An Edinburgh Airport flight path campaigner heard about an additional consultation to change the flight path, which was a significant change to what was submitted to the CAA towards the end of 2017.

This is a complex subject and the consultation was crouched in technical aviation terms. A glossy document was later received in Dalgety Bay on or after 31st May with some people still receiving it in their letter box on 2nd June or later.

Information Commissioner Officer (ICO) – GDPR

On eve of GDPR in the full knowledge that a consultation was about to take place an email was sent out to all consultees from the previous consultation to agree to being on the Flight Path consultees email list. Basically, asking all consultees to opt in.  Please see document marked “A”

Firstly. GDPR is a complex issue and we all need to take advice on it – specifically from the ICO, and that is why this section is here but…

1) The writers of the email spelt out there may well be further consultations.

2) It was very close to 25th May and this is the only email I received.

3) At this point of time everyone knew that by sending an opt-in request when everyone’s email box was full of opt in requests there would be a high risk of there not being as many opt-ins as one would like.

4) This is the difficult bit and needs the view of the ICO – the airport had a legitimate interest in sending emails to people on the contact list as they were consultees and should be updated as a matter of courtesy. Therefore, it is my view that it was not necessary to ask for an opt-in in the first place.

It is my point in 4) I am trying to bring to the attention of the ICO and I am asking the ICO to contact Edinburgh Airport and to be helpful. To that end, I am also asking for all people that have been dropped off the consultee list, as a result of the GDPR request, to be restored as Consultees.

Given that consultees have been dropped, it brings into question the validity of this particular consultation as they should have been made aware of it and told about it by email, as those dropped off consultees may have a valid interest in the new flight path.

The least that should have been done is that a pdf copy of the new consultation should have been sent out with the GDPR request.


Therefore, for this reason I am asking the CAA to intervene and halt the current consultation and I am asking for a restart at a future date to be determined by the CAA.

< – – – After this point the ICO has no need to read any further if she so wishes

The Initial Strategy for the Consultation

Was not to involve the Community in any way. The intention was to deliver the Consultation document to residents in the area concerned and ask then to respond to a complex set of issues without any further explanation. It was only after the intervention of Lesley Laird MP that a public meeting was hastily arranged for 8th June 2018. Most residents received invites to the meeting by mail on 6th/7th June.

Despite that and many apologies from those that could not attend there were over 250 people at the meeting in Inverkeithing High School.   Everyone we very concerned about the proposals.

There was a further Drop-in session organised at Inverkeithing Community Centre for 14th June 2018


The meeting 8th June 2018

It was heated meeting and major concerns raised by all the speakers

These included (and this is not an exhaustive list):-

  • – A resident that had lived near Heathrow and found the noise overhead in Aberdour worse than that she had experienced at Heathrow
  • – One-person, highlighted risks of cancer from aviation fuel – stated source of info from a previous local study
  • – Eight Schools being on the proposed flight path
  • – Inaccurate population figures about areas impacted – for instance the population of Dalgety Bay is nearer 10,500 than 8,500.
  • – Concern about increasing mental and physical health issues caused by noise pollution on residents under the new flight path. The increased costs to the NHS.
  • – Concern that proposals from the floor of the meeting were not being taken seriously and what appeared to be a lack of interest to look at alternative routes.
  • – When providing flight figures as part of the consultation all the figures referred to are averages.  As I understand it they referred to the arithmetic mean. In simple terms what is needed is the
    • highest number of flights,
    • The most likely number of flights especially during peak times and seasons, and…
    • the lowest levels of flights plus the arithmetic mean
  • – A noise monitor was offered to measure the noise of flights overhead but that is only after the consultation period and the results would not be included in the consultation.
  • – The computer model according to the speakers does not include actual measurements of noise in the areas, but uses data based on the Geographic location of Gatwick.
  • – I must say that I have travelled to Gatwick in the past and it is very different in many ways to Edinburgh and the surrounding villages/towns.
  • – My questions are:-
  • A) How can the computer model be validated against an area that is very different to one the planes will fly over?
  • B) Why are they not validating the model against the impact of the actual noise?
  • – A Queens Counsel was in the audience and he stated that he was not happy with the current consultation process and wanted a consultation that met his understanding of what should be done.
  • – The airport was operating on historical guidelines for the consultation, consultation processes and flight paths regulations instead of the new 2018 guidelines that had stricter rules and good practice about consultation and flight paths etc.

Subsequent meeting at Inverkeithing Community Centre (Drop-in event)

It was clear that some of the issues had been looked at for the high elderly population and disabled in Dalgety Bay. But this had been discounted to save money for the aircraft operators. The priority of the airport is to make small savings for the aircraft organisations and in my view showed a lack of concern for the wishes of the whole community.

Not many people are aware of this… but Edinburgh Airport is based close to the River Forth – this leads into the North Sea and there is a great expanse of water for planes to fly over, turn and gain height thereby reducing considerably any noise or pollution hazard.

But the officers from Edinburgh Airport are refusing to consider this and any other options to recommend to the CAA.

Given all these concerns and lots of unanswered questions, there is much work for Edinburgh Airport to respond to it would be sensible and prudent to halt the current consultation – set a new date were all the issues can be dealt fully and understood by all.

This would be far better than the currently rushed consultation and should follow the 2018 guidelines and best practice.

To that end I am asking for the CAA to quickly intervene, halt the current consultation and set a new date to provide time for the airport and the communities to talk and co-operate with each other.

Best wishes

Charles Litster

Fife Human Rights and Equalities Campaigner