West Lothian is on the flight path for Edinburgh Airport, which handles around 300 flights a day. Aircraft normally take off over West Lothian into the westerly wind (about 75% of the time), but when the wind is easterly, they come over Livingston before landing.
Regulation of Noise
As a local authority, we have no direct means of control over air traffic noise. Most types of non-domestic noise complaint are dealt with under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. However, aircraft are specifically excluded from the scope of this legislation.
There are controls available via the Environmental Noise Directive 2002. This came into force in the UK in late 2006, when the regional versions of the Environmental Noise Regulations came into force (in Scotland from 05/10/2006 in The Environmental Noise (Scotland) Regulations 2006).
In Scotland, the competent authority for identifying and mapping noise sources from airports and their associated flight paths is the airport operator. In the case of Edinburgh Airport, this is Edinburgh Airport Limited (EAL). The resulting strategic noise maps can be found at Scottish Government - Noise Mapping.
Noise and Spatial Data
EAL publishes information on the arrangements to in place to control, limit and reduce noise and to permit the public to view (in near real time) noise and spatial data. See Edinburgh Airport Noise Information and Data.
There are a few practical notes worth adding:
Aircraft always take off into the prevailing wind. Therefore, it is usually departing flights which cross Livingston, by which time they are at considerable height to minimise noise problems. When there is no wind or it is easterly, the aircraft normally land from the west, which will generally mean that they are lower, but under much less power. This is explained more at Edinburgh Airport - Operations Noise.
Each aircraft makes less noise than was the case a decade ago.The overall effect is that homes under the main flight path in West Lothian are exposed to less noise from aircraft noise than they used to be.
Edinburgh Airport is still used on an occasional basis by military aircraft, which are considerably noisier than commercial aircraft. Some can be large and very noisy even on approach.
To make complaints, residents can call 0800 731 3397. We would encourage you to report any specific aircraft flights which cause problems, which can then be directly investigated, using systems to which the airport has access. Edinburgh Airport can accurately tell after the event the route any particular aircraft took and it's height at any particular point in it's approach or take off. This allows EAL to penalise aircraft which diverge from the authorised flight path.
Trial of new westbound departure route
From 25 June until the end of October 2015, an additional departure flight path was trialled for quieter aircraft, known as TUTUR. This took aircraft north between Uphall and Dechmont before turning again over the River Forth. Edinburgh Airport published a report on the trial, although this is no longer available from its web site.
Airspace Change Programme ('Lets go Further')
Following the TUTUR trial, Edinburgh Airport announced its intention to seek to modernise and increase the available route for aircraft landing and departing from the airport. For general information, see Edinburgh Airport Airspace Change Programme. A two phase consultation process was carried out:
Phase 1, which ran from June to September 2016 (extended due to IT problems). This consulted on broad possibilities for future flight paths and sought community views. Reports detailing West Lothian Council's response can be found in the CoIns system. An outcomes report was published in November 2016.
Phase 2 of the consultation process ran from January to April 2017. The report regarding the response to this consultation can be found on the Coins system of the council website.
Edinburgh Airport made the anticipated Airspace Change application to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on 3 August 2017. The principal outcomes were a two phased approach which would result in:
- Winchburgh and East Broxburn will being directly overflown:
- 24 hours by all types on route C-CEDAR from Spring 2018; and
- 0600-1000 by jets on D-DOWEL from Spring 2019;
- East Calder bing directly overflown by Turbo Prop aircraft only at peak times on route A6-ACORN from Spring 2019; and
- Bathgate Hills (including Uphall / Dechmont and Torphichen) being overflow by Jets during the day from Spring 2018.
Livingston would continue to receive a significant volume of flights but may, in the short to medium term, receive a drop in flight numbers due to diversion of flights to other routes. An update report was presented to the Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh Local Area Committee on 5 October 2017 and can be viewed in the CoIns system.
Edinburgh Airport published on 11 October 2017 its rationale for the proposed Airspace Change. Accompanying it is a noise analysis document, including modelled noise contours and an Environmental Statement. Limited new information was included, but some of it was presented in a more helpful manner, whilst other elements explain the history of the proposal. Additional clarity was given on any restrictions to be applied to the proposed flightpaths, including aircraft type and hours.
The CAA web page relating to the Edinburgh Airport Airspace Change Process records that on 22 November 2018 '...the CAA has decided to reject EAL's airspace change proposal for the reasons set out in our letter of 29th October 2018. This brings to an end the CAP725 process.' There are currently no live proposals for flightpath changes.