Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign speaks up for the village of Warnham, suffering from an unannounced flight path trial
A new flight path has been introduced for aircraft taking off from Gatwick to the west, then turning left around Horsham. It passes directly over the village of Warnham and is apparently a trial designed in order to get more aircraft off the Gatwick runway. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) considers it intolerable that new misery and a decline in house values should be caused just to create extra profit for the owners of Gatwick. Normally there are 3 take off routes to the west, which are contained within compulsory Noise Preferential Route (NPR) corridors. The new route route departs from the NPR, particularly over Warnham, where it has caused consternation. The trial is a technical one not intended to measure the social impact and they did not announce it in advance so as not to provoke complaints that might not have emerged otherwise. The airport says because it is a trial it was not necessary to consult, as would be a legal requirement if the new route were to be permanent. GACC say there is no national need for this route change – Stansted airport is operating at less than half its capacity. People fear that this new route is a small fore-taste of the widespread misery and protest that would be created across Surrey and Sussex by a new runway.
The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign speaks up for the village of Warnham
28 .2.2014 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Illustration of course of trial flight path over Warnham, north west of Horsham
Yesterday John Byng of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) spoke up at the Gatwick noise committee meeting (Noise and Track Monitoring Advisory Group – NATMAG) concerning the trial of a new departure route from Gatwick that passes close to the centre of Warnham.
The trial route is one of four for aircraft taking off towards the west, whereas there were previously only three.
Most take-offs are to the west because of the prevailing winds but there have been one or two days of respite recently when the wind has required take-offs to be towards the east.
The other three normal routes are contained within compulsory Noise Preferential Route (NPR) corridors (designed to minimise nuisance and give certainty concerning the neighbourhoods impacted by take-off noise) but the trial route departs from the NPR, particularly in respect of Warnham.
Liz Kitchen (Horsham Councillor for Rusper and Capel) opened the discussion on the trial by saying she had considerable sympathy for the Warnham residents many of whom have lived in the village for years and suddenly find themselves over-flown.
Gatwick and the National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) both stated that it is a useful trial that is needed for a number of reasons and that there are both winners (people not now being over-flown) as well as losers (in Warnham and other places on the track).
The trial is a technical one not intended to measure the social impact and they did not announce it in advance so as not to provoke complaints that might not have emerged otherwise.
They assert that because it is a trial it was not necessary to consult, as would be a legal requirement if the new route were to be permanent.
They also stated that the route was carefully designed to minimise the number of people over-flown and that it passes between several villages including Warnham and not over any of them.
Peter Long (Reigate & Banstead Environmental Protection Officer) pointed out that the track is quite close to Warnham and would be perceived as over-head by many residents. NATS pointed out that some of the villages that have been avoided by the new track are actually over-flown otherwise.
John Byng weighed in heavily making the point that many residents of Warnham have bought their houses on the understanding that they were not close to a departure route and had paid extra on that basis.
They are now getting a large proportion of the departures on a single track only three quarters of a mile from the centre of the village; that the aircraft concerned are in climb mode at about 4000ft so making a considerable noise every few minutes; and that this has happened suddenly to a village that is not used to it.
He said the trial should be stopped and asked whether they yet have sufficient data. When told that more data is needed to ensure safe and efficient operations in a variety of circumstances he asked that the trial should be brought to a close as soon as possible. Since then the Civil Aviation Authority has made the same point.
It was mentioned that a noise monitor instrument is located in the area and enquiries will be made into whether it might be used to measure the noise impact of the trial. Clearly such measurements will have limited value and should have been thought about before the trial began but what matters more than the level of the noise is the level of disturbance which will not be measured except in terms of complaints.
The airport complaints telephone line is simply an answerphone so complainants may prefer to email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Complainants should take care to ask for a response but make clear that their message is a complaint because otherwise it may be counted as an enquiry.
In general discussion it was noted that the trial is a taste of things to come. The Airspace consultation, which recently closed, envisages new routes over people who are not used to it.
It also envisages narrow tracks rather than broad corridors or swathes so that the number over-flown is reduced but those who are over-flown get disturbed very much more frequently. These protests from Warnham could be the first of many and many other villages could find themselves in a similar situation.
A NATS description of the trial is at http://www2.westsussex.gov.uk/ds/cttee/gat/gat300114key4.pdf
and those who would like to see the tracks taken by aircraft as they take off from Gatwick will find http://flighttracking.casper.aero/lgw/ interesting.
It shows as “live” the events of 20 minutes earlier but can be set to show a “replay” of events hours or days earlier (top left hand corner).
Anybody wishing to help support the work of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign can do so by downloading a membership form from their web site at www.gacc.org.uk .
By doing so they will not be joining an anti Gatwick or anti aviation campaign but one that is devoted to minimising the adverse impacts for the environment and communities.
New Gatwick flightpath trials are ‘destroying’ village life at Warnham, West Sussex
February 27, 2014
Residents in Warnham, about 10 km south west of Gatwick, and complaining strenuously about low-flying aircraft going over their homes from 6am each day. They feel the character of their village, let alone its tranquillity, are being destroyed. This is part of a trial for a new new flightpath which started on February 17th and will continue for 6 months. The trial is being run by NATS in conjunction with Gatwick airport, but people in Warnham complain that they were not notified or consulted in advance of the trial. The planes pass over the village at approximately 2,000ft and villagers say they can be as frequent as every 5 minutes at some times of day. The noise is loud enough to have raised concerns about its impact on vulnerable residents, in particular the elderly and disabled. The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) claims that rural residents suffer more from noise pollution than urban residents. The noise is more intrusive as there is little background noise. GACC is concerned that the trial of the new flightpath over Warnham is designed solely to get more aircraft off the Gatwick runway. “It is intolerable that new misery and decline in house values should be caused just to create extra profit.”