Shropshire petition lodged to urge Government to re-think air traffic bill and protect AONBs
A south Shropshire resident concerned about the cost of an increase in air traffic on the county's countryside, has launched a petition to urge the Government to re-think plans.
Tony Lennon, from Chirbury, said that despite the current short-term reduction in commercial air traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic, he believes when things return to normal Government plans will not allow for any future change or improvement.
Mr Lennon said he has experienced a "huge increase" in air traffic and noise in the last couple of years. Peter Phillips, from Minsterley, also recently said he had endured the same effects.
"The increase has happened with no consultation or warning," Mr Lennon said. "Planes would come over every five or six minutes at times. So the utter silence at present is quite a contrast."
Many residents in the south Shropshire Hills urged their local MP, Phillip Dunne, to encourage Parliament to amend the Air Traffic Management Bill that Mr Lennon said would accommodate the projected doubling of civil aviation traffic over the next 30 years.
However, the Government has tabled it and so Mr Lennon has lodged a petition to oppose or amend it, with proper protection for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, AONBs, and National Parks.
''Of course, we can smile wryly at the Bill at the moment," he said.
''But in due course it can happen. It will mean planes intruding over places where in the past they have been unobtrusive, including AONBs and National Parks.
"The level of noise we experienced last year will be mild by comparison. Flights should be channelled over routes where there already is a high level of ambient noise, making the aircraft noise less noticeable.
"We discovered that there is little real protection of these very special landscapes, only 'guidance', which is weakly observed, or not at all."
He said that he is delighted that, in Parliament, cross-party support has rallied around the issues.
Chirbury Councillor Heather Kidd added: "To seek to accommodate a huge increase in air traffic runs counter to all climate change policies.
"We should be trying to reduce it. And our AONBs, like the Shropshire Hills, are a national resource. They need proper protection of landscape, wild life and tranquillity.
"Residents are not alone in their concern; visitors have a right to expect a very special scene; and our rural tourism industry depends on them – the 'staycationers' whom we are trying to encourage."
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