A NEW action group has been set up to campaign against proposed changes to flight paths over the Chilterns.

The Chiltern Countryside Group was formed to bring together all of the smaller groups who are protesting against the intended changes to the flight paths.

The proposals include allowing planes departing from Luton airport to fly at 3,000 ft above the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But present government guidelines state air traffic must fly over AONBs at 7,000 ft at least unless there are exceptional circumstances.

There would also be a greater number of aircraft flying over the AONB.

Statistics show 83,319 flights used Luton airport in 2007, with this number expected to rise to 130,000 by 2020.

Sue Yeomans, the group's co-founder, said: "This has been a natural progression from lots of people starting up action groups in their villages and networking with other people to say let's get together and make a more powerful voice in the national arena'.

"Our mission statement is to maintain the peace of the Chilterns and preserve all the little market towns."

Mrs Yeomans, a former pupil of Dr Challoners Grammar School who now lives in Tring, said residents had to come up with solutions rather than simply say they did not want more aircraft flying overhead - and hoped the formation of the new group would help.

She said: "We have to try and look at this to see if we can come up with some alternatives. We need to be proactive."

Martin Tett of Bucks County Council said: "The County Council is wholly opposed to the proposals to alter the route taken by Luton departures to the southwest such that planes would fly directly over the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and at altitudes very much lower than is presently the case."

Anyone interested in joining the group can email info@chilterncountrysidegroup.org.

The group hopes to have a website set up by the end of this week.