Blackness Area Community Council Newsletter: February 2017

Blackness Area Community Council Newsletter: February 2017 (and attached)

 

Blackness Community Ceilidh, Saturday 18 March

Its time to get this date in your diary and to tell your friends and neighbours. The ceilidh will follow the normal format – dancing or just enjoying the craic to the sounds of Billy Smith our usual accordionist, with a half time break for a Golden Chip supper and some fundraising. Tickets, Adults £12, 65+ £9, Children 14 and under £6, toddlers and babies free. The ticket prices include the cost of a small Golden Chip supper. Tickets going fast so contact Merv Archibald on 07919 001238.

Your Community needs you

Many thanks to all the volunteers that keep so many of our community activities going. These include the: Community Council, Parents Teacher Association, Scottish Women’s Institute, Community Hall, Newsletters, notice boards, ceilidhs, Christmas Fair, carol service, Blackness is Beautiful (see their lovely planters around our area), play park (plans afoot to expand this), flight path noise and many others. If you want to join or help with any of these activities, please contact us at blacknessc@googlemail.com and we’ll put you in touch with the right person.

Community Bus – Bo’ness to Edinburgh via Blackness

Later this year Bo’ness and Area Community Bus Association is proposing to introduce a 5 day week return services am and pm, Monday to Friday for 10 weeks. The pilot will provide a template for reinstating all the journeys which were cut in 2015. A survey will be conducted later this month. For more information see https://www.facebook.com/Boness-and-Area-Community-Bus-Association-SCIO-...

Proposed Gate on Road to Castle

Due to problems of theft and anti-social behaviour, Historic Scotland are planning to erect a gate across the road this Spring, just after the last house on the road to the Castle.  It will be open during the Castle’s opening hours. There will be a permanent opening at the side of the gate, wide enough to allow pedestrians, dog walkers and cyclists to pass at any time. For those who have not already told us what you think, please let us have any comments you may have.

Blackness Beach – school plaque/bench

The pupils of Blackness Primary School look after a section of the beach in front of Low Valley House. To acknowledge this, the school are thinking it would be a good idea to install a plaque or possibly a bench there – please let us know what you think about this.

Blackness Beach – Spring Clean 10.30am Saturday 4 March

The Marine Conservation Society is organising a beach clean (over the hill to the right of the Castle). Invite family and friends, the more the merrier and quicker the job gets done! Remember to wear appropriate clothing and footwear on the day. Easiest way down to the beach are the steps just to the right of the Castle entrance. Parking space is limited in the Square so if people can car share that would be great.

 

Other Dates for your diary

27.02.17                      4-8pm, Bo’ness Recreation centre, Local Development Plan roadshow      

22 – 26.03.17              Hippodrome Silent Film Festival

22.04.17                      John Muir Way walk from Kinneil House, Bo’nesss to Blackness Castle

 

Airport Consultation on Flight Path Routes

On 30th January, Edinburgh Airport announced its second stage consultation on flight path changes and published the proposed routes. Bearing in mind that the majority of responders to the first stage consultation were negative, with the message to the airport that people did not want any further changes to flight paths, the scope of the new proposals is astonishing.

See for yourself online at www.letsgofurther.com where a slew of lengthy documents awaits.

You can also request hard copies of the documents, however by 13th February the airport is advising that “these are still at the printers”

A chart from one of the documents is produced below showing some of the changes. (source: ECRC document noise analysis page 14, from www.letsgofurther.com)

Bear in mind that the lines on the map are the centrelines of the routes, and as we know, planes can and do deviate from them. As the planes climb, the noise shadow created on the ground increases, and noise emerges in a cone shape rather than simply directly beneath the aircraft. The impact of noise in a quiet rural area is also amplified.  So while the lines may not all pass directly over us, we will be affected by aircraft noise by many of them, not least the ones closest to us. The end date of the consultation is 30th April 2017.

Notable issues we have identified so far in the documents published:

1.     With minor alterations, the TUTUR route is effectively back, now called D Haven option 2, and if approved, will affect us in a Westerly wind – on average 70% of the time.  The airport received 7934 complaints during the 4 month period of the TUTUR flight path trial and were forced to curtail it early as a result.

2.     The GRICE route will also operate in a Westerly wind and will pass close enough to our area for the noise to affect us.

3.     On days with an Easterly wind, we will be affected by GOSAM which has now been split into two routes along the Forth, both of which will affect our area. The Forth tends to amplify the sound produced by planes, so routing planes along the Forth in front of Blackness will result in noise in our area as well as parts of Fife on the North coast.

It is worth noting that some Blackness residents can now hear planes passing over Dechmont on the existing GOSAM route (now known as B5) as it departs from runway 24, despite the many miles distance. The new route B2 is even closer to our area. Therefore this is indicative that the 4 major routes passing near or over our area will have a significant noise impact.

4.     The population figure quoted for Blackness of 135 people is wrong – there are at least 160 households in Blackness, implying a population of at least 300, probably more. This is significant, as the airport appears to be designing routes based on the fewest number of people overflown.

5.     Tranquillity should be a consideration, yet does not appear to be considered. Blackness is a protected landscape – an Area of Great Landscape Value - partly because of our tranquillity. This was raised by at least one resident in the Stage 1 consultation, but unlike other local considerations, this factor has not found its way into the documentation as it should have done at page 59. This is a significant point, designated landscapes should be recognised and protected, and our area has not been.

6.     Areas of “possible vectoring” or “turning at the request of Air Traffic Control”. While routes have been published in the form of lines on maps, it is clear from the consultation documentation that the airport intends that departing planes will deviate from these routes. Several routes will therefore take planes directly over Blackness.

7.     The data from the noise monitoring carried out during the TUTUR trial indicated that the SELs (Sound Equivalent Levels) over our area for the various routes ranged from 68 to over 80 decibels. Averages were reported for each route as follows:

 

Source: Blackness Noise Report 10th March 2016

The averages include the background noise, which is around 40 decibels, or as remarked in the report, “the noise monitor was placed in an unusually quiet area”.

The SELs given in the documentation for the new routes over our area are estimated at 70 decibels – highly significant against a background noise level of around 40 decibels. Noise is not measured on a linear scale, the decibel scale is logarithmic, so the effect of an increase in noise from around 40 decibels to around 70 decibels is actually an eight fold increase.

As noise levels are usually averaged out over time to form an LAeq figure, and these averages also take into account the background noise levels, it has been calculated that the effect of a doubling in the number of planes could only result in a 3 decibel average increase in noise.

8.     While only populations overflown at 7000ft are being considered, as we know, planes above these altitudes do cause significant noise, particularly when climbing and or turning and when flying over or close to rural areas of tranquillity.

Why is this happening?

We continue to struggle to understand the justification for these changes, as the airport continues to operate below capacity. The airport concedes that it does not need new flight paths in order to “modernise” the airspace which was a prime argument used in the first stage of the consultation. In their FAQ, they now accept that existing flight paths could be RNAV1 enabled.

We also continue to dispute the “baseline” used in the consultation that GOSAM is a customary route. It is clear that prior to 2015, this route was little used, and residents here had no issue with aircraft noise. Since 2015 it appears that both the GOSAM routes off each end of the runway were “switched on” to be used intensively by jet aircraft following a narrow path in a concentrated pattern of. Residents across a wide are continue to complain about new and unwanted noise levels. Noise complaints to the airport have increased 60 fold since 2015.

What can we do as a Community to find out more and oppose these proposals if appropriate?

The airport is intending to carry out visits to the areas affected by the new routes to discuss matters with residents. You may remember that the airport last visited us in March 2016, and it may be appropriate for them to be invited to meet us again.

Can you let us know if you would be able to attend such a meeting?

Responding to the proposals:

Given that the airport admitted to the loss of nearly 200 responses to the first stage consultation, we are advising people to keep a copy of everything you send to the airport with a note of the time and date. We also recommend copying in our MP, MSPs and Local authority councillors and as this is a local election year, local election candidates. You may also wish to copy in the BACC at blacknessc@googlemail.com  and the campaign group Edinburgh Airport Watch – see below.

The campaign group Edinburgh Airport Watch continues to oppose any further changes to airspace that will impact negatively on residents. You can contact the group via email edinburghairportwatch@gmail.com or via facebook group edinburghairportwatch or twitter @eaw_group