Change in flight paths could affect Fife communities

People living in Fife may need to consider installing noise reduction measures for their homes after an announcement that flights paths in and out of Edinburgh Airport could be changing.

According to the Courier, a large part of Fife might soon have flight paths overhead - and the noise could damage quality of life for residents.

Towns and villages such as Burntisland, Kinghorn and Kircaldy, the Wemyss and Buckhaven could all have aircraft passing overhead at an altitude of less than 4,000 feet. The noise at ground level from these planes could be as much as 73 decibels - that's about the same as a vacuum cleaner three feet away.

In addition, areas as far west as Kincardine, north to Auchtermuchty and east past Leven could also be affected by the noise levels, as planes like Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s could pass between 4,000 and 7,000 feet above ground level.

Commenting on the announcement, Helena Paul, a campaigner for Edinburgh Airport Watch, said that people living in Fife need to educate themselves about the proposals and come together to fight the plans before it's too late.

"What could be coming is deeply, deeply serious for hundreds of communities," she warned.

Government guidelines require that as few people as possible should be overflown below an altitude of 7,000 feet. The changes come as Edinburgh airport plans to introduce new area navigation routes in 2018. Also known as RNAV, these take advantage of improved navigation capabilities, while also improving efficiency and capacity.

Edinburgh Airport has actually announced a number of potential new flight paths and the Fife routes are only one set of options. A consultation has been recently launched and leaflets have been passed out to households that could be affected.

The south-west coast of Fife is already on one of Edinburgh Airport's departure routes. Inverkeithing, Rosyth and Dalgety Bay already see around 81 aircraft fly over each day at around 7,000 feet.

Ms Paul, who lives in West Lothian, says her local village has been affected by a heavily criticised flight path trial.

"I used to live in a peaceful, rural area where the only sounds were bird song, sheep and cattle. Now I am woken at 6:22 in the morning by planes coming over my house. At peak times they are every two minutes and it doesn't stop until midnight," she explained.

She described the problem as "horrendous" and is urging local people to do everything they can: "They need to organise themselves, they need to have public meetings, set up Facebook pages, whatever they have to do to get the message out."

Ms Paul believes that rural areas will suffer more than urban areas because there is less background noise to drown out the roar of the jets.

"If you live in a rural, tranquil, peaceful area, lookout. Your quality of life will be changed and not for the better."

Edinburgh Airport's chief executive Gordon Dewar explained that the airport needs to be modernised in a way that maximises the benefits across Scotland, while minimising the impact on local communities. "The objective of the first stage of the consultation is to gain responses from the public that will help us inform the design of any potential flight paths," he said.

If the local communities aren't successful in their campaigns to prevent the routes, they may want to consider noise reduction measures like acoustic insulation and sound-proof windows. These can dramatically reduce the amount of sound coming into the home.