Labour and Greens comment on Airport expansion in parliament

Labour MSP Neil Findlay – Please watch and share my speech from my debate today on Edinburgh Airport’s flawed flight path consultation.

My full speech is also below in text. (Check against delivery)

Thank you presiding officer – air travel is a modern necessity whether that be for work or leisure many of us use it at some point.

For people living near an airport they know and accept that they have to endure some disruption; however, it is incumbent upon Government and airport authorities to keep the impact of air travel and noise to a minimum and reduce disruption on people’s lives.

Airport’s may need to expand at some point but that should only be when:-
• those airports reach capacity
• when there is an unanswerable evidence base for doing so
• And when actions are taken to ensure widespread community support and real and genuine mitigation measures are put in place and carry the confidence of the public.

Under the current proposals put forward by Edinburgh airport none of this has happened. There is no evidence base for expansion, the airport is not at capacity, there is huge community opposition and the mitigation measures promoted do not carry the confidence of the communities who will be affected. 
From the outset the consultation process on the proposals from Edinburgh airport to introduce new flight paths has been shambolic and flawed in so many ways. Let me set out why.

Edinburgh airport is not at capacity – it is operating below 2007 levels. The airport claim they have scheduling issues at peak time around 7 am. The rest of the time there are no capacity issues. Isn’t it therefore ironic that to address the 7am scheduling issue the airport have brought in charges on airlines to manage peak demand for slots. Edinburgh airport are one of the most vocal advocates of scrapping air passenger duty to increase demand yet impose their own flight duty to manage peak demand. And of course they haven’t been shy to add drop off charges for their passengers. Their brass neck is something to behold.

The initial phase 1 consultation process saw over 200 consultation responses lost, many people not notified of the plan and residents in places like East Calder, Winchburgh, Kirkliston, South Queensferry and Kirknewton advised by the online tool to check their postcode or their future postcode to see if they would be affected by new flight paths. Thousands of people were advised there would be no impact on them so never made submissions. Then lo and behold the phase 2 route options were published and these very same people find they are now very much affected by the plans having just spent hard earned money and life savings on a new home.

This occurred because the whole consultation is based on the population from the 2011 census – a whole six years out of date. This completely fails to take into account the huge number of new houses built in Calderwood, Winchburgh, Kirkliston and other areas. And isn’t astonishing that the developer of the huge development at Winchburgh where 4000 new houses, a secondary school and much more will be built has not even been consulted by the airport about their proposals. I have spoken to a number of residents who bought houses in new developments on basis they believe they wouldn’t be affected – only to find out they now are.

The airport claim 25,000 fewer people will be overflown – yet the methodology behind this claim is nowhere to be seen.

Yet again there is no evidence base in this flawed process.

The consultation process has also been heavily loaded in favour of the airport. Community councils whose members are lay people with limited expertise in the highly technical world of aviation have been asked to comment on very complex documents with no support or technical advice available to them. This is completely unfair and loaded in favour of a big powerful and influential business who have consultants, technicians and spin doctors coming out of their ears. That is neither fair nor just but I do however want to pay tribute to all those community councillors and members of the public who have committed he time and effort to this cause.

And Presiding officer most disconcerting in all of this is how this new consultation sets community against community. In developing several route options they are effectively saying to people – OK you might not want flights over your property so which community would you like to send them over –a divide and rule strategy if ever there was one.

Other concerns include the way data has been presented, the loss of submissions at phase 1 and the failure to fully analyse health and environmental impacts.

But let me be clear Edinburgh airport is not developing these plans in isolation. A freedom of information request I have just received lays bare how they are absolutely complying with the SNP Government’s policy. At a meeting between Nicola Sturgeon and the Chief Executive of easyjet in November the First Minister said and I quote “The Scottish Government will continue to support all Scottish Airports to grow the number of routes to and from our airports.” The paper goes on “We are keen to explore further route development options with easyJet and to support their aspirations to expand in Scotland.” Crystal clear. Isn’t it therefore crass hypocrisy for Fiona Hyslop and Angela Constance to sit in cabinet supporting this policy and the scrapping of air passenger duty but all the while claiming to their constituents in Broxburn, Linlithgow, Uphall, Dechmont and East Calder that they oppose these proposals. They have been well and truly rumbled trying to ride 2 horses at the one time.

Presiding officer I am more convinced than ever that this plan for more routes and flight paths is about one thing and that is fattening Edinburgh airport for a future sale at an inflated profit. That is what GIP the owners of the airport do.





Scottish Green MSPs today used a Holyrood debate on Edinburgh airport’s expansion plans to call on the Scottish Government to step in and halt the company’s flawed consultation.

Last week 20 community councils affected by the plans came together at a summit meeting at Holyrood hosted by Mark Ruskell, Scottish Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife.

In today’s debate, Mr Ruskell said:

“These proposals will impact heavily on West Fife. Dalgety Bay alone will go from being overflown on 70 days per year, to potentially facing flights 365 days per year, 18 hours per day, with no respite.

“This unfair consultation pitches communities against each other. Instead we need to agree that this consultation is not fit for purpose and should be halted immediately.

“Last week, I held a meeting in parliament for affected Community Councils. Representatives from 20 councils, across 6 local authority areas attended, and each had their own story to tell about how they felt misled, or ill-informed. There is no information on the social, economic or environmental impact of the proposed routes, because these assessments have simply not been done.

“The Scottish Government must step in and force the CAA to put a halt to this consultation.”

Also speaking in the debate, Andy Wightman, Scottish Green MSP for Lothian, said:

“This consultation has been seriously flawed, the airport operators have misled the public and have displayed an arrogance and contempt for public opinion. Edinburgh Airport, NATS and the CAA have virtually all the power. They got it from Conservative Governments who privatised the airports, who privatised NATS and who created the modern CAA whose statutes privilege commerce and the needs of the private airline industry.

“Are these proposals in the public interest or are they designed to boost the asset value of a company to be sold off at profit in the years ahead by a bunch of faceless offshore speculators? Edinburgh Airport exercises power in the interest of its faceless shareholders in far-away tax havens.”


New Kirknewton Map and Guide to help boost local tourism


Kirknewton Community Development Trust are pleased to announce the new Kirknewton Guide and Map.  The intention of this project is to make local people more aware of their natural surroundings, encourage tourism and support local employment.

Inside you can find more about the new Pentlands Walk, section 75 cycle route, transport links, local businesses and places to stay.

There is 10% off at Potter Around and information about the Green Room, The Stables, MadMax Adventures, Kirknewton Riding School, Hillycow Wigwams, The Cyrenians Farm, Harperigg Fisheries, Mortin Clay targets, the Pentland Hill, Dalmahoy Golf Courses, Almondell and Calderwood Country Park, Jupiter Artland, Ratho Climbing Centre, Newbridge Go Karting, shopping, places to eat and the history of Kirknewton.

The map will be delivered to 20,000 homes across West Lothian.

More information can be found on the Kirknewton website at

Thanks to local man David Dignan of for designing the brochure.

Laura Bilton is new Kirknewton Youth and Volunteer Officer

image1 (2)

Kirknewton Community Development Trust are happy to announce the employment of Laura Bilton as our new Youth and Volunteer Officer. Laura begins in May and joins us from The Action Group, where she was an employment advisor, youth group worker for young people with additional support needs and support worker. She also previously volunteered for the Kirknewton Youth Group.

For the first time ever ALL our staff currently live in Kirknewton, which is a great achievement and meets our objective to create local employment when we can.
Laura joins us until our current funding stream ends in July 2018. Big hello to Laura, it’s great to have you on team Kirknewton.

Kirknewton agree community ownership option at revised Fauch Hill windfarm

wind-turbinesKirknewton Community Development Trust has agreed Heads of Terms to provide ongoing funding to support the Kirknewton Community Development Plan.

The majority view of the communities in Kirknewton and West Calder and Harburn have been expressed to planning via the recent community consultation which was undertaken.

As you may be aware Kirknewton Community Development Trust have for the last 11 years worked tirelessly to create an income stream for community activity, to the benefit of the whole community, particularly by investing in renewable energy.  We have faced several disappointments along the way, largely due to external factors, despite majority community support.

We have managed to survive thanks to the Lottery supporting our work and ambition within the community, providing a better start in life for the young in Kirknewton right through to those approaching retirement with our current housing project.  Community spirit and engaging volunteers, supporting local business and creating employment, providing care for those in need and supporting young parents/carers and improving activities for teenage children can all be evidenced.  We have shared our experiences and see an active and vibrant sector across West Lothian which identify need based on community consultation and informed development plans, rather than listening to a small and vocal minority who shout the loudest.  This is very welcoming.

We cannot stress enough, however, that for Kirknewton Community Development Trust this ends on July 2018 when our considerable lottery funding comes to an end. 

The surprising and revised Fauch Hill windfarm is our only hope for continued funding and maintaining the work we do alongside various stakeholders and community groups who do wonderful things around Kirknewton.  With ownership of a ‘virtual turbine’ on the table to support our Development Plan work we intend to make this known as a priority for us over the next couple of months.  For that reason we hope you will encourage and support the Fauch Hill wind farm proposal, particularly at planning stage.

From the research undertaken, supported by Kirknewton Community Council and the Trust, the Kirknewton community (and we are aware the results in West Calder are dissimilar) tell us

“Across the three elements of the consultation (household survey, online survey and surveys completed at the Boralex exhibitions) there were 406 responses from the Kirknewton Community Council area. Of these, 43% indicated support for the proposal (19% strongly support, 24% tend to support) set against 14% that indicated opposition (10% strongly oppose, 4% tend to oppose). The balance was made up of neutral responses (31% neither support nor oppose, 12% don’t know).”

Now that this socio-economic component may be considered as of material value in current planning decisions we wish to emphasise the importance of the income that would be earned on a continuous, long-term basis providing stability in funding that will allow the Kirknewton Community Development trust to plan developments in the certainty of a sustainable income derived from our fractional ownership in this development over the 25 year lifetime of this project.

The majority of the community supports this development as does this Community Trust. We believe that ordinary folk recognise that we must accept responsible for the long-term sustainability of our planet on behalf of future generations. Scottish government has ambitious targets for carbon  reduction , for generation of electricity from renewable resources and for the ownership by community bodies of renewable energy generating capacity . This project meets all those needs.   The offer made to the two host community bodies, and to the wider West Lothian community through West Lothian Development Trust,  by the proposer of this development is generous as loan finance is offered on a non-recourse basis. It is unlike offers made to Scottish communities by any other developer as it underwritten by guarantees that facilitate ownership without financial risk or penalties and consequently we recommend that this project is granted full consent by our local authority acting on behalf and to the benefit of the communities that it is elected to represent.

This application goes to planning soon and your view has been shared via the community consultation that was undertaken to get the majority community view on this windfarm.  Thank you for showing your support.

Kirknewton visited Scottish Parliament about airport expansion last night…

I would say there were about 20 community councils represented at tonight’s meeting in a full committee room at the Scottish Parliament. Angela Constance, Alistair Stewart (Con) – who left right after I spoke – Mark Russell(Green), Alison Johnstone (Green) and another Green MSP, plus a professor, and a government statistician from Edinburgh Airport Watch were present.


Though most were against the Airport’s proposals there was keenness not to be dismissed as a group of nimby’s. One community councillor said her brief was that her area might benefit from increased employment at the airport – though the statistician had already shown slides demonstrating how each airline industry job is effectively subsidised to the tune of £50,000 by the tax discounts on fuel, VAT and duty that the industry benefits from compared to other businesses.
Points were made about lack of restrictions on night flights, that London’s Airports apart from Heathrow were intentionally built outside populated areas etc.
A letter will be circulated shortly for Kirknewton Community Council agreement to sign. Mark Russell and EAW intend to draft it with the main point being taking all factors into account, including the fact three affected communities were initially excluded by postcode from responding, the inaccuracies and mistakes in the Airport statistics, that the Airport should abandon this process immediately. That any new consultation should wait until the CAA’s CAP725 process is in place and be conducted with credible evidence and genuinely accessible materials.
There was in fact much interest in the response from the Airport to our letter, some aghast that it was possible the Airport could refuse to consider our response and insist on a response via the website – despite the obvious deficiency that it is difficult to include a diagram in a text box.
It was interesting to meet Helena Paul and Airport Watch, people who discovered during the TUTUR trial from 2015 that the airspace over their heads at Blackness mattered much more than they had previously thought.
Meantime, if you regard peace and quiet of the air above you as a public asset, please write to your local councillors, MPs and MSPs, preferably before the 7th of May, asking them to apply all possible pressure in councils and Parliaments to have the CAA reject EAL’s deeply flawed proposals. 
Given all the elections currently going on, there is a very good chance they will be “all ears”.
Please also ask the MSPs to support Neil Findlay’s motion S5M 04708.
That is to be debated next week. As I can walk to the Parliament for a lunch hour I have already booked my ticket for 12:45 next Thursday the 27th. If you can spare the time, Professor Greenhouse made an appeal for as many as possible to turn up in the public gallery in order to demonstrate to MSPs that this issue matters to many people. Tickets are available from the Scottish Parliament by calling 0131 348 5000 / 0800 092 7500.
If you haven’t already done so get your thoughts in for the second part of the airport consultation at
John Thomas

Kirknewton Community Council response to airspace consultation

Dear Sir,

Volunteers in local communities have limited time, resources and expertise to respond to proposals from well resourced corporations. Nevertheless Kirknewton Community Council believes there are significant flaws in Edinburgh Airport Limited’s Airspace Change proposals. At the very least EAL should withdraw the current consultation and start again ensuring that information on which decisions are based are accurate now and in the known future.

As an example of this from P43 of your consultation document, Calderwood is planned to have 2,800 homes on completion. This represents a population of around 10,000 very close to the new A6 Standard Instrument Departure route but not taken into account by the change plans. East Calder – population around 6,000+ – is presumably included in Livingston. As you will see on the next page, to say flights are further away from this population is factually inaccurate.

Airport table

In reply to responses from the communities affected, EAL said:

“The route does not fly over Kirknewton, East Calder or Mid Calder but does pass closer than current operations. As we have explained not all towns and villages have been included in the population matrix.”

airport 2Why were all towns and villages not included in the population matrix? It cannot be any part of a reasonable consultation to discard evidence because it does not suit the proposer’s case. In the map extract clearly Calderwood and the new developments around Raw Holdings are directly overflown.

In addition, sound reduces in volume with the square of the distance. Turboprops will overfly Calderwood and East Calder as low as 2000ft. Today they pass over Livingston nearer to 4000ft. Twice the distance equals one quarter of the volume. So even if the number of people overflown is less, the impact of the noise on residents of East Calder, Calderwood and Kirknewton is likely to be significantly greater.

But is the number overflown actually lower?

airport 3

In order to accommodate tripling the jet departure rate from one every three minutes to one a minute, turboprops are to be turned south more quickly over Calderwood, East Calder and Kirknewton. B5 is as the airport says the existing GOSAM route to the west then south. Given that the proposal amounts to three flights in the same time as one, the B5 route represents a 50% increase in overflights of Livingston.

On page 143 of the consultation document, Letters of Agreement with other airspace users contain an agreement with the Ministry of Defence to allow safe operation of gliders at Kirknewton Volunteer Gliding School. When this agreement is activated at weekends and during school holidays, the claimed benefits of sending turboprops over Kirknewton will be negated.

Reverting turboprops to the route over Polbeth will increase jet departure intervals to the same as now. This appears to negate this aspect of the proposed change entirely as airlines presumably cannot base schedules on whether the air cadets happen to be flying on a particular day in the future.

airport 4

Kirknewton Community Council respectfully requests that Edinburgh Airport Limited withdraw their current SID and STAR change proposals and if necessary come back with proposals that are consistent with a properly identified need.

Yours faithfully,

John Thomas, Treasurer Anne Pinkerton, Vice Chair

On behalf of Kirknewton Community Council

Charles Jencks artwork – expressions of interest for facilitator or landscape artist required


Expressions of interest.

Deadline 30th April 2017

Kirknewton Community Development Trust are looking for a skilled facilitator or landscape architect with a local office who can help turn sketches by Charles Jencks into detailed drawings and into buildable art. You will need to deal with reinforced concrete, drainage, angle of repose of earth, Health and Safety requirements and have the general architect/landscape skills required.

This is for a piece of art designed by Charles Jencks, that will be the gateway of the village to the East. Information on the proposal can be found camps-junction-art-booklet.  Expressions of interest should be sent to by 30th April 2017.

KCDT are currently at the second stage of a community asset transfer of the land, planning has been submitted, part funding in place with a current application being made specifically for community art. It is expected work could begin in June/July 2017. 

Charles Jencks was heavily involved with Maggie’s Centres and Jupiter Artland – further information on him can be found at!