Villages up in arms as new Gatwick “ADNID” flight path shatters their peace and quiet
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 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.
Gatwick Airport’s maps showing the ADNID flight path route
PR NAV ADNID trial departures
This illustrates how the flights are concentrated along a narrow flight path.
Centuries of calm ruined as Gatwick planes take left turn
Mark Hookham, Transport Correspondent (Sunday Times)
Published: 9 March 2014
Full article at
- Sally Pavey says residents suffer noise from aircraft from 6am every day (Andrew Hasson
Several pilots who live in Warnham are supplying an action group formed last week with detailed information about the new route.
One admitted that he recently flew over the village but made sure his aircraft was at 5,000ft to minimise the disruption to his family and neighbours below. He said some pilots flew over the village at below 3,000ft.
A spokesman for Gatwick, which handles up to 55 flights an hour, said: “This trial departure route could reduce the impact of aircraft noise and overflight by potentially up to 70%.” [This is a fairly typical remark from the industry, made while manifestly increasing the noise for many people. Disingenuous. Not the sort of comment that encourages anyone living near an airport to believe what the airport tells them, or have any faith in their reassurances. AirportWatch comment].
NATS said the new navigation system would enable aircraft “to climb more quickly, descend later and follow routes with pinpoint accuracy”.
Illustration of course of trial flight path over Warnham, north west of Horsham
See also a blog by HACAN in October 2013:
by John Stewart
Today’s announcement by National Air Traffic Control (NATS) that it proposes to reconfigure airspace could be more significant that any plans for a new runway. ‘Airspace’ and ‘flight paths’ sound like a technical turn-off but, in my view, this is the most important and far-reaching aviation announcement of the year.(http://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/news/local/could-new-respite-routes-reduce-noise-for-people-living-under-gatwick-flight-paths-1-5584748#.Ul1Ccxa6zS4.twitter …)
Why? It could be airport expansion by the backdoor in a big way as it might result in a 20% increase in the number of flights which can use existing runways. And, if done badly, could generate the sort of huge popular protests that have taken place inFrankfurt since flight paths were changed to accommodate the new runway in 2011.
Let me explain. NAT’s proposals are part of the Single European Sky Agreement, known as SESAR. SESAR aims to create much more coordination between the air traffic control systems of individual European countries. These would increase efficiency and potentially cut CO2 emissions.
So far, so good. But, according to the NATS report published today on the Gatwick airspace, it would enable a plane to land at Gatwick every minute. Currently the gap between aircraft needs to be 90 seconds. Without the hint of a second runway, this could increase capacity of the airport by around 20%. (This first consultation just covers Gatwick and London City, but NATS will in due course produce proposals for the whole country).
But there is more. NATS has said it will be revising all the take-off and landing routes. That could mean some areas become free of planes while others are under a flight path for the first time. And that’s where the protest will start. People are more disturbed by planes when they’ve never had them before. And they feel cheated because they can reasonably argue they never expected to be under a flight path. It is this situation which has seen up to 5,000 people occupy the terminal inFrankfurt every Monday night ever since the fourth runway opened in 2011.
Potential noise ghettos
However, it could even be worse than this. Increasingly, NATS has the computer technology to guide planes much more precisely. This is why they are talking about having stacks in the sea and then guiding aircraft to the airport in one or two continuous paths. That will relieve many people who currently get aircraft but it could turn the new areas into noise ghettos.
NATS is aware of this and is talking about providing respite periods by varying the approach paths to airports (and the take-off routes). That would be welcome but it still potentially leaves many communities experiencing a lot of aircraft noise for the first time.
NATS is also talking about quieter planes and steeper descent paths. All very but I’m not sure they will be enough to stem the torrent of protest new flight paths will unleash.
A few years back NATS were badly hurt when they tried to vary flight paths aroundLutonand Stansted. They backed off. This time they are trying to still the protests about consulting on the concept of airspace changes first, long before publishing the new flight paths.
As I have said, they are starting with Gatwick and London City but hope to cover the whole county by 2020, including Heathrow where, according to the European Commission, over 725,000 people leave under the flight paths.
The explosion waiting to happen could relegate the fight over a new runway in London and the South East to second place. And, nationwide, the streamlined system could significantly increase the number of planes using our airports.
The EU is giving NATS little choice but to try and introduce these changes. But they are playing for very high stakes. Get it wrong and they could be an explosion of protest across the UK.
Comment from an AirportWatch member on Gatwick’s failure to give prior warning to residents of the trial:
The Gatwick Consultative C’tee minutes for the 30th Jan meeting are at
This seems to give more evidence of “don’t tell them about it in case they are alerted to complain” !!
It reports :
UNCONFIRMED MINUTES – TO BE CONFIRMED AT THE NEXT MEETING OF
GATCOM ON THURSDAY 10 APRIL 2014
[GATCOM is the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee http://www.gatcom.org.uk/ ]
TIME SEPARATION DEPARTURES TRIAL – ADNID ROUTE
160. Mr. Taylor, NATS and Mr. Denton, GAL presented a departure routes time separation trial that would commence on 10 February 2014 for a period of six months (copy of presentation slides attached to the signed minutes). The operational trial would involve the creation of a new, but temporary, departure route (west of the BOGNA route) which would pass over farmland to the west of Billingshurst. The temporary route had been designed to avoid populated areas.
161. It was explained that the purpose of the trial was to gather data to help develop national standards for improved efficiency for runway use and establish whether it was operationally feasible to improve time separation between flights off Gatwick’s runway using P-RNAV technology. The trial route would also involve a reduction in the currently required angle of divergence between adjacent routes – from 45 degrees to 20 degrees.
162. Members asked whether local communities would be informed of the temporary change. 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. GATCOM looked forward to receiving the results of the trial. [AirportWatch emphasis].
Page 8 of GATCOM minutes of 30th January 2014
9.10 Due to the short term nature of temporary airspace changes and airspace trials, it will usually not be necessary or appropriate for the airspace change sponsor to consult on their proposals or to undertake the airspace change approval process. However, the likely impact of the proposed change on the environment should be considered by the sponsor prior to implementation and this information used to help the CAA to determine whether a proportionate consultation is required.”
As CAA is a public body, it should be quite possible under Environmental Information Regs to ask them for the information supplied to them by the sponsor of the trials on “the likely impact of the proposed change on the environment” and information/documents/emails supplied and received by them relating to this and the proportionate consultation that was carried out before the CAA approved the trials being implemented.
NATS, not being a public body, is under no such duty to supply information.
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.’ Click here to view full story…
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign speaks up for the village of Warnham, suffering from an unannounced flight path trial
March 4, 2014
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.
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.” Click here to view full story…
Concerns about the effectiveness of a new aviation noise authority – and the public’s trust in it
March 4, 2014
In its interim report published on 17th December 2013, the Airports Commission recommended to government “… the establishment of an Independent Noise Authority to provide expert and impartial advice about the noise impacts of aviation and to facilitate the delivery of future improvements to airspace operations.” GACC – the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign – has responded to this suggestion with a lot of caveats. GACC would welcome the authority if its main purpose is to reduce aircraft noise, but not if its main purpose is to persuade local residents to relax their opposition to a new runway at Gatwick. Residents want the noise to be reduced, not ‘mitigating’, and not ‘reducing the number of people affected’ if that means merely making noise worse for fewer people. . There have been years of unsatisfactory complaints mechanisms on aircraft noise, and also of broken assurances from the aviation industry. “A single point for complaints, an aircraft noise ombudsman with power to order improvement or compensation, would be welcome. But we do not see this in the recommendations of the Commission’s Interim Report.” There are fears that the new body will be “long grass into which difficult issues could be consigned.” A body designed to smooth the path of a new runway, whether at Gatwick or elsewhere would be vigorously opposed.