Aerodrome safeguarding

Aerodrome Safeguarding is a process we undertake to ensure that any developments or activities taking place within the vicinity of the aerodrome do not adversely affect the safe operation of aircraft landing or departing.  Following this assessment process, we can make sure that the appropriate measures are taken to ensure the continued safe and efficient movement of aircraft.

The airport is a statutory consultee on planning applications within the local area to ensure that our operation is not restrained by development in the vicinity, and we do offer pre-planning assessments for developers to help avoid conflict with safeguarding criteria.  Aerodrome safeguarding is a legal requirement for an airport under both ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) regulations and UK CAA regulations. 

There are three main types of aerodrome safeguarding:

  • Physical safeguarding – this protects a set of flight safety surfaces up to a 60km radius around the aerodrome and assesses the height of a proposed object, structure or building to ensure it does not physically infringe what are known as Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) or affect Instrument Flight Procedures (IFPs).  The OLS forms a complex set of 3-D surfaces which extend upwards and outwards from the runway, designed to protect the airspace in and around the airfield from obstacles for flight safety. IFPs are a set of pre-determined routes/tracks that aircraft will follow within an aerodrome’s surrounding airspace from take-off to landing. Each IFP has its own unique set of obstacle protection areas. These areas can be very large and extend many Nautical Miles from the designed ‘nominal track’ of the procedure. If they are penetrated, this usually results in an increase to the published Obstacle Clearance Altitude(s) (OCA) or in the worst case, can result in the requirement for a fundamental redesign of the procedure.

  • Technical Safeguarding – this protects aircraft navigational equipment (including our main radar used by Air Traffic Control) from any interference or disruption by obstacles or structures in the area.  It is essential that there is no interference or distortion to the radio signals used in the operation of navigational aids as air traffic controllers and flight crew are entirely dependent on the accuracy of the information displayed on their instruments, particularly in low visibility conditions.       

  • Wildlife and Landscape Management - bird strikes are the number one hazard on and around the airfield, therefore it is crucial that we have oversight of developments and areas which include water features, waste disposal sites, and landscaping as these have the potential to increase bird activity.  We have a 13km radius around the airfield where we monitor bird activity, and as a statutory consultee, can and will request Bird Hazard Management Plans to ensure there is no risk to aircraft.

OLS & IFP Safeguarding Map – Full Area

OLS & IFP Safeguarding Map – 15km

Airport Operators Association (AOA)

The AOA publish a series of advice notes with regard to aerodrome safeguarding, written in conjunction with the regulator and other professional bodies.  These are all available on the AOA Website

  • Advice Note 1 – Aerodrome safeguarding an overview

  • Advice Note 2 – Lighting near aerodromes

  • Advice Note 3 – Wildlife hazards around aerodromes

  • Advice Note 4 – Cranes and other construction issues

  • Advice Note 5 – Renewable energy and impact on aviation

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has produced several advice notes providing useful information and guidance on safeguarding issues. These can be viewed here.


In order to ensure the safety of aircraft while taking off and landing, or flying in the vicinity of aerodromes, Aerodrome Operators must ensure the airspace around the airfield is appropriately safeguarded against any obstacles that have the potential to infringe protected surfaces or have an impact on radar and other navigational aids. This is detailed in the Civil Aviation Publication CAP 738 Safeguarding of Aerodromes.

The Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) and Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP) areas that surround the aerodrome each have a height restriction associated with them and no development or obstacle should infringe upon that height.  Cranes have the potential to infringe these protected surfaces due to their height and moving parts, therefore it is imperative we are aware of any operating within our notification area. 

As per British Standard 7121 ‘Code of Practice for Safe Use of Cranes’ - Crane control in the vicinity of aerodromes - crane operator(s) are required to consult with aerodromes for permission to work if a crane is to be used within 6km of the aerodrome and its height exceeds 10 metres or that of surrounding structures or trees.  The below map outlines the 6km radius around our aerodrome.

Crane area map

The hirer of the crane (principal or other contractor) must inform Edinburgh Airport at least one month in advance of requiring to use a crane or other tall construction equipment to allow consultation with outside agencies if necessary.  This will allow us enough time to determine if there are any limitations and mitigation procedures that must be agreed before work commences.  We do appreciate there may be circumstances which require immediate hire and we will endeavour to process your application as soon as is practicable.  Emergency crane hire will be dealt with accordingly.

Crane permit application 2024,

The coordinates and heights stated on the permit form are assessed against our OLS (Obstacle Limitation Surfaces) and IFP (Instrument Flight Procedures) safeguarding maps to ensure that no navigational aids are compromised, and that aircraft can continue to land and depart safely from the aerodrome. If the initial assessment highlights that an obstacle is in a location and at an elevation where it either penetrates or is close enough to penetrating an OLS/IFP surface, then a further detailed assessment may be required.

This activity can only be carried out by CAA licensed airspace designers and this will incur an additional cost which can be in the region of £1000-£3000. The exact cost will not be known until the assessment is undertaken.  If the location is very near our aerodrome, particularly under the take-off and approach areas, it is likely a technical assessment will be required therefore please contact us for a quote.

It is a criminal offence under the Air Navigation Order 2016 to endanger the safety of an aircraft. 

Noncompliance with air safety regulations can result in legal action.  Any cranes found to be operating within the notification area without a valid permit may be subject to legal action under the Air Navigation order, and applications for future permits may not be processed.


Aerodrome Safeguarding has a specific definition in UK legislation, it is a process of consultation under the Town and Country Planning Acts where airports like Edinburgh Airport are a statutory consultee and LPA’s must consult with us with regard to certain planning applications.  In order to address any potential issues before planning applications are received by us for review, we offer a pre-planning service which can help identify any aviation specific safety issues, and where possible, give advice on suitable mitigation options which can be included at the time of planning submission.  This may be in relation to height restrictions at specific locations, or the need for Wildlife Management Plans.  This pre-planning service can save time and money, particularly when it comes to developments in the immediate vicinity of the aerodrome where restrictions may be more stringent. 

Email us for more details:

Wind Turbines

Edinburgh Airport supports renewable energy initiatives and has no objection in principle to wind energy schemes, however, there continue to be significant concerns regarding the impact that wind turbines can have on the safe and efficient operation of aircraft and airports.  Wind Turbine developments have the potential to affect communication, navigation and surveillance aids (like the main radar used by our Air Traffic Controllers), all of which ensure the safe operation of aircraft flying in the vicinity of the aerodrome. It is therefore crucial we carry out the necessary assessments to ensure safety of aircraft is maintained.

Whilst turbines have the potential to cause an infringement on the OLS (Obstacle Limitation Surfaces) and possibly IFPs (Instrument Flight Procedures), the most prominent impact we see is interference with radar. Their large moving parts reflect the radar wave, which in turn produces a return on the radar screen in the Air Traffic Control Tower.  The return (clutter) which is produced on the screen of an Air Traffic Controller can be mistaken for aircraft as currently the radar is unable to distinguish between an aircraft or the return from a wind turbine.  While a single turbine on its own may not affect the radar, when it is added to the overall picture with other wind turbines in the general area, it may become an issue.

Due to the lateral and vertical differences within IFP protection areas and the Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS), obstacles which do not penetrate the OLS may have an impact on IFP’s and vice versa.  It is therefore likely that Wind Farm developments will require an IFP assessment to be carried out due to their location and height, and this must be carried out by a UK CAA Approved Procedure Design Organisation.  This activity is at the cost of the developer and we can assist with obtaining a quote for this.

Where issues are identified we will always seek to work with developers to mitigate and enable development to proceed. Following the necessary technical safeguarding assessment, it may be that the development either has no impact on the surveillance equipment and can go ahead with no objection, or it requires a mitigation agreement to be put in place.  Under a Radar Mitigation Agreement, a windfarm developer pays the operator of a different radar to provide Edinburgh Airport with a ‘radar feed’ from that second radar, which is then used to cancel out any windfarm returns from the airport’s own radar.  Whether an arrangement like this is necessary, and the specific type of arrangement, would be determined by our Air Traffic Service Provider who control the radar for Edinburgh.  NATS En-route plc (NERL) who operate the en-route radar to EDI and are consulted separately under their capacity as a statutory consultee.  If you are planning a windfarm development within 60km of the airport, and you would like to have an assessment in advance of submitting your planning application, please contact us: