Gatwick offers to pay households for noise of 2nd runway – dismissed by opponents as a “very small bribe”
Gatwick airport is on a PR and charm offensive to try to get support for a 2nd runway. This has been somewhat upset over the past two weeks by the impact on the village of Warnham of an unannounced flight path trial. Now Gatwick airport may have been rushed into making the offer of £1,000 per year to “all households most affected” by noise from a 2nd runway. The airport says would be equivalent to Band A Council Tax (currently £1000). Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said the cash would help negate some of the impact. The airport estimate that 4,100 households would qualify for the money by 2040, using the discredited 57 decibel contour. In reality, the 57dB contour does not accurately reflect the areas where noise is annoying or causes disturbance – even the 54dB contour, as used in Europe, is an inaccurate measure. Many thousands more people – perhaps 48,000 – would need to be compensated if the 54dB contour was used. The £1,000 is a derisory figure, not even slightly compensating for loss of house value, or for loss of local amenity and quality of life. This is a very small bribe.
Gatwick airport offers a very small bribe!
10.3.2014 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) press release
Gatwick Airport has offered an annual payment of £1,000 to about 4,000 houses most seriously affected by noise from a new runway.
Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC, described this as ‘a very small bribe’.
– On the measurement of noise favoured by the EU, the number of people affected by noise from a new runway, would be 48,000 (compared to 10,000 at present);
– £1,000 would be tiny compared to the loss of house values;
– The payment would not be made until after the new runway were built;
– It would do nothing to compensate anyone affected by the new flight paths currently being planned; (see below)
– The payment would be small compared to the deterioration in the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of people – the urbanisation caused by 40,000 new houses, loss of countryside, pressure on schools, hospitals, road and rail.
 This figure for the 54 Lden contour is given in the GAL submission to the Airports Commission 19 July 2013, Table 8 page 31, [Page number 31, Page 39 scrolling down] and includes the 5,000 houses under construction in the Crawley NE sector.
Gatwick airport’s press release:
Gatwick to pay ‘second runway Council Tax’ for local communities
10 March 2014 (Gatwick airport)
All households most affected by noise from a second runway at Gatwick would receive annual compensation equivalent to Band A Council Tax (currently £1000) if and when the runway becomes operational, Gatwick Airport announced today.
This represents the next stage of Gatwick’s industry leading approach to noise management at the airport (Minimise, Mitigate, Compensate). It underlines the importance that the airport attaches to addressing environmental issues and acting as a responsible neighbour.
Commenting on the proposal Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said: “Expansion at Gatwick would, without doubt, deliver many upsides for our local community in terms of jobs and investment. But we must also recognise the negative noise impacts on local people from more flights. Gatwick’s location obviously means that comparatively fewer people would be affected by a new runway. However, I believe we must do more to help those that would be affected.
“How we best compensate communities affected by major infrastructure projects is an issue facing a growing number of sectors – from aviation to energy. Our proposal would see the people most affected by expansion at Gatwick receiving monetary compensation.
“Under the scheme, we are pledging £1,000 towards Council Tax for qualifying households in the local area, if and when a second runway became operational. Our current estimate is that as many as 4,100 households (i) could qualify for this scheme and so this would provide a real and positive benefit to a significant number of people.
“Environmental issues are at the centre of the debate about runway capacity in the South East and noise reduction, mitigation and compensation are therefore at the heart of our expansion plans. This scheme will be a cornerstone of our planned package of measures for local residents.”
Gatwick’s location to the south of London means the potential impact on people is at a much lower level than at Heathrow. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, 3,650 people living in 1,600 homes around Gatwick are affected by aircraft noise today (ii). At Heathrow, on the same basis, almost 240,000 people living in 100,000 homes (iii) are impacted by aircraft noise – more than the total number of people impacted by all other major Western European airports combined.
Gatwick has long recognised that people who live near airports have concerns about noise and takes its obligations to the environment seriously. The airport is at the forefront of industry noise management initiatives, and its ongoing noise reduction scheme has already set new standards in protecting local communities against noise pollution. For example:
• Last year Gatwick became the first – and so far the only – UK airport to trial, and get permission to implement, Precision Navigation which allows aircraft to fly on much narrower flight paths rather than in wide swaths enabling aircraft to fly over areas with the least amount of people living under its flight path.
• Gatwick has also recently become the first UK airport to fully consult on modernising its airspace, which it believes could potentially reduce noise annoyance for over 65% of households currently affected, and
• Earlier this year Gatwick announced plans to roll-out one of the largest and most innovative noise mitigation schemes of any airport in the UK and across the rest of Europe, offering hundreds more local homes up to £3,000 towards double glazing and loft insulation. Over 40% more homes will be protected from noise than were covered with the old scheme.
Addressing the impact of noise on local communities will be a critical issue in winning local support and for the Airports Commission’s assessment of its short listed options. How scheme promoters address noise reduction, mitigation and compensation will be a primary focus of public debate on the benefits and impacts of a new runway being built in London and the South East.
Notes to Editors
(i) Gatwick Airport Limited modelling of the 2040 57 dB(A) Leq noise contour by the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) Environment Research and Consultancy Division (ERCD). [Link to this document is not given].
Details of the proposed Council Tax Scheme
- £1,000 per annum payment (indexed at CPI) to Council Tax payers resident at the time of runway opening, whose homes are within the airport’s two runway 57 dB(A) Leq noise contour.
- This contour is the UK Government’s measure for the onset of noise annoyance. The scheme will use actual measured contours produced annually by the CAA, providing an independent benchmark, and will be updated every 5 years to reflect changes in noise performance.
- Recognising the increased intensity and frequency of noise with a second runway, the scheme will be open to residents already within the single runway 57 dB(A) Leq noise contour.
- We estimate that by 2040 there could be 4,100 eligible homes within the two runway contour (i).
- Just under 100,000 households sit within Heathrow’s 57 dB(A) Leq noise contour today. (iii)
- The scheme will not be open to residents who move into the noise boundary contour after Gatwick applies for planning permission, which would follow the Airports Commission support and Government approval.
- The scheme will only be applicable to the existing housing stock today, and not to any new housing which might be built in the intervening period.
- We will consult locally on this scheme if Gatwick is chosen for runway expansion by the Airports Commission, and the Government takes that recommendation forward.
- The scheme would be in addition to any statutory compensation and blight scheme(s) we would implement if Gatwick is taken forward for runway development by the next Government.
About Gatwick’s new noise insulation scheme
Gatwick’s noise insulation scheme goes further than any other airport in the UK and Europe. It has reduced the noise threshold for the scheme, with the boundary line drawn flexibly to ensure entire roads and communities are included. The boundary has also been extended along the flight paths by 15km to both the east and west of the airport. This will mean that over 40% more homes are now eligible than under the old scheme.
For more information please click here.
About the London Airspace Consultation
Between 15 October 2013 and 21 January 2014, Gatwick and NATS – the UK’s leading provider of air traffic services – asked people living across Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Hampshire to have their say on the positioning of new flight paths in their local area.
This information will be used to help establish new routes which offer the most benefit with the least possible impact, with a particular focus on reducing the impact of aircraft noise.
Airspace above the south of England is some of the busiest in the world. This consultation is the first stage in a wider programme of proposed changes to deliver the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), which will be legally required to come into effect in 2020.
For more information please click here.
Gatwick promises £1,000 second runway compensation
10 March 2014 (BBC)
Thousands of households affected by noise from a possible second runway at Gatwick would be given £1,000 a year in compensation if it is built, the airport’s boss has said.
CEO Stewart Wingate said the cash, equivalent to Band A council tax, would help negate some of the impact.
It is estimated that 4,100 households would qualify for the money.
A second Gatwick runway is one of the options currently being considered by the Airports Commission.
Other options include another runway at Heathrow and an airport in the Thames Estuary.
Mr Wingate said: “How we best compensate communities affected by major infrastructure projects is an issue facing a growing number of sectors – from aviation to energy.
“Our proposal would see the people most affected by expansion at Gatwick receiving monetary compensation.”
Gatwick claims to be the UK’s second largest airport and the busiest single-runway airport in the world.
More on the upset caused by the unannounced flight path trial:
Villages up in arms as new Gatwick flight path shatters their peace and quiet
March 9, 2014
The Sunday Times has featured the story of the misery and upset being caused over villages in Sussex by a new trial flight path from Gatwick. The village of Warnham is particularly affected. It is a quiet village, but now has planes taking off from Gatwick thundering overhead. Some of the affected residents are the mother-in-law of Boris Johnson, who said who say the noise is so loud that it sets off baby monitors and drowns out the sound of local church bells. Also Caroline Lucas, whose family owns the 215-acre Warnham Park, with a large herd of red deer, said: “How long will future generations stay here? That’s the question you have to ask.” The 6 month trial, of which there was no notice given to local residents, is of a new departure route for planes mainly bound for southern Europe, which are now turning south earlier than they normally do. The airport says the trial is to find out if a new aircraft navigation system will allow air traffic controllers to reduce the interval between flights taking off from two minutes to one, potentially allowing more flights to take off at peak times. ie. make Gatwick even busier than now.
A recent meeting of the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (GATCOM) said, discussing whether residents should be warned of the trial in advance. GATCOM minutes of 30th January 2014:
“It was felt that parish councils in particular should be advised of trial to enable them to respond to their constituents if problems arose. Mr. Denton would consider this but emphasised the need to obtain genuine feedback from those affected. If people were aware of the trial it was possible that they would be more alert to changes and feel obliged to comment.” ie. don’t warn them, because they might complain.
Francis Maude: Noise misery foreshadows Gatwick second runway
March 8, 2014
Francis Maude, MP for Horsham, has received a great number of letters and emails from distressed residents in Warnham and Rusper, in recent weeks, about the new flight path trial over them. They are saying they are being plagued by a constant stream of noisy aircraft taking off from Gatwick towards the west starting at 6am. Many people have complained directly to Gatwick Airport, the CAA and NATS – but have yet to be satisfied on a number of points. Most residents were not aware of any minimal consultation about the changes before they started. Francis Maude is asking for much more detail about the trials. These include on what criteria will the trial be assessed? Why does it need to continue for six months? and How is it being monitored? He says the misery currently being experienced by local residents foreshadows what would be a permanent feature of life in the area if a 2nd Gatwick runway were to be built. The amount of opposition to this trial suggests it is not being successful. Francis Maude says: “I have made my opposition to a second Gatwick runway many times in public and private, and am happy to reiterate this now.”
GACC calls for flight path trial to stop due to anger and outrage in the village of Warnham
March 5, 2014
A new flight path for take-offs from Gatwick airport has caused outrage in the parish of Warnham, near Horsham. Designed as a 6-month trial to enable more aircraft to take-off from the Gatwick runway it has already caused a wave of protest. A member of the GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign), Sally Pavey, who lives in Warnham, says: ‘The tranquillity of our 14th century, conservation village has been lost and we seem powerless to do anything about it. Everyone is up in arms as we are woken at 6.00 am with an aircraft overhead every few minutes. Living in Warnham has turned into a nightmare!’ GACC has called for the trial to be stopped. The new route is causing an unacceptable degree of upset and maximum anger. It is just a small foretaste of what is to come if a new runway were to be built. “With a new runway the new flight paths would bring anger and misery to perhaps 30 or more towns and villages. And that would be permanent, not just for 6 months. Warnham is a wake-up call for why we should all oppose a new runway.’
Gatwick hopes that by giving another 1,000 homes double-glazing it will defuse opposition to a 2nd runway
Date added: February 3, 2014
Gatwick airport continues to spend a lot of money in attempting to get backing for its 2nd runway and soften up opposition. It has now set up a new scheme – starting on 1st April – to give people overflown more double glazing and house insulation, to attempt to cut some of the noise. That, of course, does not work when the windows are open, or when people are outside – in a garden, or elsewhere. Gatwick says it is expanding its noise insulation scheme, to cover over 1,000 more homes across Surrey, Sussex and Kent. People will be able to apply for up to £3,000 towards double glazing for their windows and doors as well as loft insulation; ie the scheme could cost Gatwick some £3 million in total. They are now taking the 60 Leq contour, rather than the 66 Leq contour, as in the past – hence increasing the catchment area. They are also extending the area covered by 15km to both west and east of the airport. Stewart Wingate said “We understand that the public’s tolerance to noise is much lower than it was”… Gatwick is pushing hard to compare the noise problem it causes with the much larger noise problem caused by Heathrow, where flight paths go over many more densely populated areas. They ignore the issue of the low level of background noise around Gatwick, compared to background noise in a city or large town.
More to get Gatwick Airport noise grants
3 February 2014 (BBC)
Owners of more than 1,000 homes in Kent, Sussex and Surrey are eligible to claim noise insulation grants, Gatwick Airport has announced.
The grants of up to £3,000, now available to more than 40% more homes, will go towards double glazing as well as loft insulation.
The boundary for the scheme has been extended by about 10 miles (15km) to the east and west of the airport.
Noise level boundaries have also been lowered for those qualifying.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive, said: “We understand that the public’s tolerance to noise is much lower than it was, which is why we are now extending our noise insulation scheme.”
The extended noise insulation programme will begin on 1 April.
The airport has also unveiled a £53m new platform and concourse which will allow fast trains from London Bridge and Victoria to travel through its railway station more quickly.
Platform 7, which will open to passengers next week, was funded by the airport and Network Rail.
It was officially opened by transport minister Baroness Kramer.
Signalling has also been upgraded at the station in preparation for improvements to the Thameslink service from 2018.
Mr Wingate said it was an important part of a push for a second runway at Gatwick.
Comment from an AirportWatch member:
Neither GAL nor the Government have sorted out compensation for the problem of noise and overflight for the existing runway yet. These have got worse due to the creeping changes from 1999 to now. They need to sort out the existing problems, compensate those already suffering from plane noise from Gatwick, before thinking about their second runway.
The offer from Gatwick, with no press release or proper announcement, looks like a panicked reaction by the airport to the trouble they have caused in the Warnham area.