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Birmingham International Airport accused of 'running scared'

BIRMINGHAM International Airport has pulled out of a meeting with local residents, prompting a community leader to accuse it of "running scared" in the face of opposition to expansion plans.

BIRMINGHAM International Airport has pulled out of a meeting with local residents, prompting a community leader to accuse it of "running scared" in the face of opposition to expansion plans.

John Morris, BIA's head of corporate affairs, was due to have spoken to the Hampton-in-Arden Society on September 3 about the extension of the main runway and proposals for airspace changes.

But now he has told the chairman, Graham Juniper, he would not be ready by that date to answer the "many questions" he was likely to face, and wanted to postpone the meeting until later this year.

Members of the society were anxious to quiz BIA about its intention to do away with what is known as the 'Hampton Turn' once the runway is lengthened by 405 metres to the south. Planes currently make a 20 degree right turn just after take-off in order to avoid flying over the village, but in future they are set to fly on in a straight line.

The society wants the airport to keep the turn so that Hampton residents are subjected to as little aircraft noise as possible, and it has also suggested increasing the current three degree glide path for incoming flights, claiming that with the extended runway, planes will be flying at least 100 feet lower.

Mr Juniper said he was "very disappointed" the airport had backed out of next month's meeting, saying it had a duty to consult local communities about its expansion programme.

"There are a quite a lot of people living locally with aviation knowledge and they had plenty of questions they wanted to ask.

"However, it seems as if the airport people didn't want to answer them."

Mr Morris insisted BIA had nothing to hide and refuted the suggestion it was frightened of facing tough questions.

He said the meeting had to be put back because the focus group tasked with determining the extent of the consultation on the airport's plans would not get together before September 3.

"We will have a senior team from the airport present at the rescheduled meeting, probably including our new chief executive, Paul Kehoe," he added.

The society's meeting, at Fentham Hall, will still go ahead, with an official from Friends of the Earth giving a talk about climate change and the aviation industry.

 

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