GACC calls on all councils around Gatwick to hold public meetings on flight path plans
Gatwick airport is consulting on future changes to flight paths. The consultation is long, complicated and almost incomprehensible to the average lay person. It is very hard indeed for those to be over flown, with no experience of aircraft noise, to understand. The proposals could have a serious impact on many towns and villages around the airport, and potentially affect an area from Guildford to Tunbridge Wells and from Petworth to Sevenoaks. Now GACC has called on all parish councils and town councils around Gatwick airport to hold public meetings to enable residents to understand and discuss the new flight paths proposed by the airport. If the parish or town is not affected by the new flight paths, then GACC suggest that a meeting should be held to discuss the proposals for a new runway. John Byng, Vice chairman of GACC, said: ‘Many people are telling us that the flight path document is difficult to understand. The proposals affect each area differently, so we believe that local meetings are the best answer.’ GACC will be asking for a simpler version of the consultation to be sent to all those under the new flight path, and for maps showing the full length of the new flight paths, not merely below 4,000 feet.
New flight paths
31.5.2014 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) have launched a consultation on their plans to redraw many of the flight paths around Gatwick. The document is at www.gatwickairport.com/gatwickairspaceconsultation
These proposals could have a serious impact on many towns and villages around the airport, and we advise you to study them carefully. The new flight paths will potentially affect an area from Guildford to Tunbridge Wells and from Petworth to Sevenoaks.
GACC is extremely concerned about these proposals which could represent the biggest change in the noise impact of Gatwick for a generation.
We will need to take time to study them in detail but our initial reaction is that –
1. Any change in flight paths causes great distress and anger because the previous peace is shattered, expectations of future peace are destroyed, houses are devalued and people are unable to move and feel imprisoned. People have paid extra for houses that are not on flight paths only to find that new flight paths are being created – without compensation.
2. One of the main motivations is GAL’s desire to get more aircraft off the runway, and thus to make a larger profit.[i] There is no need for extra flights when Stansted is only half full.
3. The consultation covers too small an area because disturbance is experienced far beyond the noise contours, particularly in areas where background noise is low. It is a disgrace that no maps are given showing the full length of the new flight paths.[ii]
4. No details are given of the new point-merge system for arriving aircraft which will affect much of East and West Sussex, and part of Kent.[iii]
5. A risk is that this consultation will set community against community. Anger should be directed at the airport, not at your neighbours.
6. The airspace is being redesigned in ignorance of what causes disturbance. The necessary research has not been done. For example, there is no evidence that concentration will cause less disturbance than dispersal. Ten flights an hour over one person may cause as much annoyance as one flight an hour over ten people.
7. The proposed new flight paths all relate to the existing runway. If ever a new Gatwick runway were to be built, all the flight paths will need to be revised, with new flight paths over areas at present peaceful. So why cause extra hassle now, when there is no urgent need for change?
8. The 60 page consultation document[iv] is written in technical language and is difficult for lay people to understand. GACC will be asking for a simpler version to be sent to all those under the new flight paths, and for public meetings to be held so that people can understand what is proposed.
[i] GAL is a private company owned by overseas investors.
[ii] The reason is that this consultation is being conducted by Gatwick Airport Ltd which is responsible for flight paths below 4,000 feet. NATS (National Air Traffic Services) is responsible for flights above that height.
[iii] Presumably because this new procedure would apply to aircraft above 4,000 feet.
[iv] 120 pages including maps.
Gatwick flight path changes revealed as 12 week airspace consultation launched
Gatwick airport has started another consultation on changes to its flight paths. This will last for 12 weeks and end on 15th August. The earlier “consultation” done by Gatwick, that ended on 15th May did not include any flight path details, which many who attended the exhibitions found frustrating. Gatwick’s consultation is complex and not intended to be easy for a non-expert to understand. It is rich in acronyms and jargon, that is not properly explained. One could conjecture that making the consultation so hard to understand is deliberate. At its heart the consultation is about Gatwick managing to get more planes using its current flight paths, with changes to get planes taking off separating earlier, so more planes can use the runway with shorter intervals between them. There remains the issue of whether the noise should be concentrated down narrow routes, or dispersed in “swathes” of several kilometres. The Noise Preferential Routes, for planes below 3,000 feet or 4,000 feet, are meant to be routes where the least noise nuisance is caused. However, planes above 4,000 feet are still a real noise irritation. Gatwick’s proposals for more planes on more routes will mean many more people being exposed to a lot more plane noise, either way.