A PROPOSAL to modernise Edinburgh Airport’s airspace, with a change in flight paths set to affect West Fife communities, has been resubmitted to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

A supplementary consultation has concluded with the preferred option called E7a, which would see planes make a 20 degree turn at the runway when departing to the east.

Aircraft would fly towards the west of Cramond and along the Firth of Forth – a proposal that has angered politicians who say Aberdour, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay and North Queensferry will be adversely affected.

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: “Vast growth at the airport as well as the change in technology means we need to modernise our airspace to meet current and future demand, and it is a process many airports are looking at.

“Our approach must be one that is balanced between the needs of the airport and the economy and customers we serve as well as those of our neighbouring communities – we believe our proposals do that. Although there was no requirement to consult, we wanted to go back to our communities to listen to their valued feedback and understand their concerns.”

However, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Labour MP Lesley Laird said the consultation was “flawed from day one” while Mid Scotland and Fife Green MSP Mark Ruskell said their decision to proceed was “cynical” and called for a halt. 

Ms Laird said: “This is Edinburgh Airport’s third proposal for this flight path area and, despite previous calls from Aberdour asking for flights to track along the Forth, this latest proposal brings jets closer to residential areas than ever before.

"That clearly suggests airport planners are not listening and have already made a decision – with commercial reasons driving it.”

Mr Ruskell said 89 per cent of respondents to the latest consultation opposed the flight path. And he said the airport’s decision, despite this opposition, to resubmit their application to the CAA to fly the new route as early as next year was “cynical”.

He said, “Local residents in North Queensferry, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay have made it very clear that they do not want their communities to suffer the constant disturbance new flight paths will bring. And once again Edinburgh Airport has ignored these wishes and pressed on with plans regardless.”

The airport said the consultations were “appropriate and robust” and adhered to guidelines relating to fairness and openness. A spokesman said the CAA would ultimately decide if the process was “good practice”.

He added: “The discussions with communities have been open and honest which is exactly what we wanted. Even though there was no requirement for us to carry out this supplementary consultation, we wanted that dialogue and to work with our communities and we thank them for their involvement.”

The airport’s airspace was designed in the 1970s when Edinburgh had around one million passengers per year – it now deals with 13.4 million passengers per year with flights to more than 150 destinations.

Mr Dewar said a change in the flight paths will allow the airport to be more flexible with flights and maintain service levels while building increased capacity for future growth at the airport.

The proposal to CAA, the industry regulator, was put forward following a supplementary consultation which included two public sessions, a Facebook Q&A, social media campaign and information sent to more than 12,000 homes, elected members and groups.

Mr Dewar added: “The process has always been about participatory democracy rather than electoral and we have gained a greater insight into our approach due to this.

"As with previous consultations, we have published a report detailing what we’ve heard and that will be followed by a rationale document later this month which will explain the thinking behind our resubmitted proposal.”