Edinburgh Airport has been forced to shelve controversial plans to alter flight paths over Fife because of the devastating impact of coronavirus on the aviation industry.
The airport’s previous proposal, which would have resulted in many more flights being directed over Fife, was met with fierce public opposition and eventually thrown out by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in October 2018.
The governing body ruled the differences between the public consultation and the final flight path proposals were “too significant”.
The decision delighted campaigners and local politicians who had argued that communities in Fife would be subjected to increased levels of air and noise pollution and and earlier and later flight times.
North Queensferry, Inverkeithing, Dalgety Bay, Aberdour and Burntisland are among those communities most likely to be affected by the changes.
Edinburgh Airport bosses had hoped the revamped Edinburgh Airport Airspace Change Programme, which was submitted in January, would be considered more favourable by the CAA.
However, because of the impact of COVID-19 has had on airlines and the wider aviation industry, Edinburgh Airport has now postponed its flight path changes indefinitely.
A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “One of the central aspects of the ACP process is public engagement, something that wouldn’t have been possible in current circumstances.
“We have also had to place members of staff on furlough so we took the decision to pause the process and informed interested communities and individuals.
“We will be speaking to our regulator, the CAA, about when it would be appropriate to restart the process and we will communicate this to those local communities and groups.”
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP, Neale Hanvey, said: “Coronavirus has impacted all parts of our economy, and airports are no different, so it’s not surprising that Edinburgh Airport has taken the decision to halt plans to introduce new flight paths.
“I know this is a decision that will be welcomed by many in my constituency and, throughout, I have worked hard to make their views heard.
“Of course, aviation is vitally important to our local economy and we all benefit from improved connectivity.
“Moving forward, I will continue to advocate for my constituents and ensure that there is proper consultation around any proposed changes to flight paths.”