A CAMPAIGN group set up to oppose a flight path trial has accused Edinburgh Airport of planning to impose a “new airspace regime” on the area surrounding it – effectively a secret flight path.

The airport has three flight routes to the west, but launched a six-month trial on a new route named TUTUR last June, in a bid to see if it could increase capacity by cutting the departure interval between flights from two minutes to one.

However, people living beneath it have attacked the airport’s lack of transparency.

“The Government expects all airports and aerodromes to communicate openly and effectively with their local communities about the impact of their operations,” said Helena Paul from SEAT – Stop Edinburgh Airspace Trial.

“Edinburgh Airport failed to adequately communicate about the TUTUR experiment with communities – the first many residents knew about it was when the planes started roaring over their heads.”

“It is a scandal that flight trials may take place without any public consultation – for TUTUR, the trial was ended two months early due to public outcry, but the airport intended to continue using the route while they ‘consulted’ with the public about it.”

She also criticised the delay in publication of the trial results, saying there were concerns that data from airport-positioned noise monitors would “not adequately reflect the disturbance on the ground”.

The trial was stopped early after nearly 8,000 complaints. Yet SEAT members say they are still hearing about new problems with noise from residents across West Lothian and into Fife.

Now the group has written to community councillors across the area to warn them of the effects on quality of life a change to flight paths could have.

Paul, from Blackness, West Lothian, told The National: “Prior to June 2015, I did not have any cause to contact Edinburgh Airport since moving to Blackness four years ago.

“This is a peaceful, tranquil rural area, where sheep, birds and cattle form the sonic backdrop.

“No more. Planes now roar overhead from 6am until midnight. I have sent four emails of complaint to the airport this week to complain about unacceptable levels of aircraft noise that I did not experience previously.”

She added: “Planes are more frequent, lower and louder, yet the airport refuses to accept that anything fundamental has changed.”

In a letter to Gordon Dewar, the airport’s chief executive, Paul said that since July she had complained about more than 600 instances of noise disturbance, many late at night or in the early hours.

“While the airport is well aware of where it is sending planes and the likely effect the noise from them will have on communities beneath, it is a gross imposition on residents to expect us to have to note down dates and times of flights and then complain reactively to you,” she wrote.

“Your airport could choose to mitigate the effects of noise by directing planes differently; and indeed it appeared to a number of residents that the airport may well have actually done so as a deliberate tactic to reduce the noise levels picked up by the additional noise monitors put in place during the trial.”

In his reply, Dewar said that “with the exception of the TUTUR trial there have been no other changes to airspace around Edinburgh Airport in the last six months”.

Martyn Day, the SNP MP for Linlithgow and Falkirk East, told The National he appreciated both sides of the case.

“I can see why Edinburgh Airport wants to shorten the departure interval at peak times, but these are not late at night or after midnight,” he said.

“We have written several letters, but there’s been a lack of a suitable response from the airport management. I think their PR machine has not been particularly effective.”

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said: “Aircraft have been flying in and out of Edinburgh Airport on the same routes for 40 years; they are not flying any lower or louder than they did in the past.

“The recent flight path trial was conducted to gain essential information to enable a full consultation with local residents. In line with CAA guidance all local MPs, MSPs and councils were contacted in advance to inform them of the trial. As previously stated – any future airspace change trails will be preceded by a direct engagement process with local residents.

“Later this month we will publicise the results of the trial including noise and any resulting proposed air space change will include comprehensive stakeholder consultation.”