Airport master plan comes under fire

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Opponents of attempts to expand Edinburgh Airport have dismissed a 51-page master plan for future development as “public relations spin”.

The group Edinburgh Airport Watch has also called on the Scottish Government to explain how it can reconcile ambitious emissions targets with a scheme it argues would greatly increase air pollution.

The newly-published master plan envisages creating a larger terminal building and developing infrastructure to meet a predicted rise in the number of passengers using the airport.

The strategy has been put out to consultation for the next six weeks.

In a related development Airport management claim a rich new seam of Chinese tourism could be within reach.

The master plan strategy to cover the next 25 years in what is claimed to be a “realistic and responsible” way, but also contains outline ambitions stretching 40 years into the future.

Its release follows figures showing that this October was the busiest ever for a Scottish airport, with nearly 1,130,000 passengers traveling through it, while this year will also be the first in which there have been more than a million passengers in each of seven months.

Opponents were still analysing the detail of the scheme on Saturday, but have already called on the Scottish Government to reject plans it says will drain tourism from Scotland and add to pollution.

Edinburgh Airport Watch spokeswoman Helena Paul said: “Really all we are seeing is an attempt by Edinburgh Airport to gain carte blanche approval to do anything they like.

“Our own survey shows they have been talking nonsense about flight paths – they have made life impossible in areas including Blackness.

“The earlier flight paths trial was a disaster, but we’re concerned people will think they’ve given up.

“They haven’t, and will be back to try and expand in a way designed to deliver profits to their shareholders any way they can”.

She argues that while the master plan is about expansion of facilities on the ground instead of the currently stalled bid to make major changes to flight patterns the two are closely inter-related.

Linlithgow MSP Fiona Hyslop has tried to freeze any bid to major move on flight patterns until a new regulatory body has been established, but has come under fire for appearing to back a line which would open up new routes in other areas.

A survey she carried out in her own constituency disclosed what appeared to be major local opposition to any signficant change to the flight path patterns Edinburgh Airport says are out of date.

Helena Paul said: “Noise does not feature in the strategy document until chapter 6, along with scant references to air pollution - that is how much Edinburgh Airport cares about its neighbours and its impact on the environment.

“Most people do not fly frequently, yet more and more of us are now suffering from the negative impact of aviation, while gaining no benefit.”

However Airport management argues it has to develop in order to meet 21st century expectations, and claims it can act as a major driver of tourism.

Details of its plan can be found on a pdf at http://www.edinburghairport.com/about-us/airport-expansion