Flight path changes could create nationwide protests due to the scale of the areas affected
Writing in a blog, in response to the huge anger and upset there has been around Gatwick in response to the flight path trial over Warnham and nearby villages (called the ADNID trial, in the jargon), John Stewart anticipates that flightpath trials are going to be a real headache for the industry for years to come. He says “flightpath” will be the ‘F’ word that will be on everybody’s lips over the next few years. The big changes to flightpaths which are expected over the next 5 – 6 years could trigger protests on a scale that could exceed the opposition to any proposed new runway. In their scope, they could be more like the ‘anti-roads’ protests of the 1990s. The aviation industry is currently undertaking the most far-reaching changes to airspace across the UK for 60 years, due to the EU scheme, SESAR. It is changes to the Heathrow flight paths that are making the industry particularly nervous. That’s the reason why flightpaths at Gatwick and London City are being looked at first – and why Heathrow is very tentatively experimenting with new take-off techniques. “What will worry Heathrow in particular is that the consultation on its flight path changes, expected around 2016/17, could coincide with the decision of the next Government as to whether or not to back a 3rd runway.”
Flight path changes could create nationwide protests
Blog by John Stewart
It will be the ‘F’ word that will be on everybody’s lips over the next few years. ‘Flightpaths’. The big changes to flight paths which are expected over the next five or six years could trigger protests on a scale that could exceed the opposition to any proposed new runway. In their scope, they could be more like the ‘anti-roads’ protests of the 1990s.
The aviation industry is undertaking the most far-reaching changes to airspace across the UK for 60 years. The driver behind it is something called SESAR. It is an EU-scheme to make flight paths across Europe more efficient. The industry would like simpler, more concentrated approaches and departures to increase capacity and reduce CO2 emissions.
Add in the fact that that the technology now exists for aircraft to be guided much more precisely and there is the potential for significant changes to flight paths.
However, the industry knows changes to flight paths can be toxic. Look at the extent of the protests, and the degree of upset and anger that the current Gatwick trials have generated from villages that never expected to be overflown and from places which have seen a big increase in flights.
But it is changes to the Heathrow flight paths that are making the industry particularly nervous. It is the reason why Gatwick and London City are being looked at first and why Heathrow is very tentatively experimenting with new take-off techniques.
What will worry Heathrow in particular is that the consultation on its flight path changes, expected around 2016/17, could coincide with the decision of the next Government as to whether or not to back a third runway.
However, the flight path issue will not be confined to London and the South East, though it there that the greatest pressure for change is coming from. It potentially affects the whole country. And this is why the protest could go nationwide. It is quite possible to envisage a national network of the newly-overflown or badly-affected emerging containing lots of angry local residents.
The industry will try to forestall or minimize such protests by talking up the “winners” from any proposed changes. And there will be winners. Some areas will get less or no noise if the flights become more concentrated. But I suspect this will off-set by the raw anger of those who find themselves living in the ‘noise ghettos’, particularly if they are significantly overflown for the first time.
The industry is looking to introduce measures to alleviate the pain of those who will be in the noise ghettos. It is a key reason why they are looking at respite periods, steeper descent and take-off approaches and other operational measures.
The jury is very much out as to whether the industry will be able to do enough to pacify the noise ghettos. If not the ghettos, like ghettos around the world, are likely to explode. Just look at what has happened in Frankfurt when the flight paths were re-jigged when the 4th runway was built. Nearly three years after is opened in 2011, thousands of people still occupy the terminal every Monday night in protest against the new flight paths.
A new runway will create protest. But, unless it follows the pattern of the Heathrow 3rdrunway last time round and becomes an iconic environmental struggle, it will be confined to one area. The flight path changes, by contrast, have the potential to generate nationwide protest.
For more about the flight path trial at Gatwick see
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.
New branches of CAGNE form in Kent and East Sussex, joining the original in West Sussex
The threat of a 2nd Gatwick runway, and the “trials” of new flight paths by Gatwick airport, has caused considerable upset in areas across southern Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent. The flight path routed over the Warnham area (Warnham, Rusper, Kingsfold, Winterfold, Rowhook, Slinfold and North Horsham) set in motion the formation of CAGNE – Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions – to fight against the unwelcome noise intrusion into the lives of thousands. CAGNE has now grown, as more and more people upset by the flight paths – and the threat of more – join forces. There are now two other CAGNE groups, working in East Sussex and in Kent, as well as the original CAGNE in Warnham, West Sussex. A group of residents, formerly the Bidborough Environmental Action Group, are becoming CAGNE East opposing planes, flying day and night – an aircraft “superhighway” – over historic areas of the High Weald ANOB, most of Tunbridge Wells and Southborough, Bidborough, Rusthall, Penshurst, Chiddingstone and Hever. CAGNE East strongly supports the High Weald Parish Councils HWPCAAG initiative, opposing Gatwick’s bid for a 2nd runway.
New campaign group – CAGNE – formed to protest against Gatwick Airport noise
A new campaign group has formed in the Gatwick area, protesting against aircraft noise. Gatwick airport has been attempting to get good PR by claiming to do more than other airports to manage its aircraft noise. However, infuriated residents living under a newly created departures flight path have formed the new group, called Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE). It already has more than 300 frustrated members across Sussex, who are particularly angry at new flightpaths, of which the airport deliberately gave no prior notice. People at the villages of Rusper and Warnham, west of Crawley – which used to be quiet – have been horrified to find themselves subjected to relentless aircraft noise. Sally Pavey, a CAGNE member, said: “This is bringing misery to thousands of people and destroying the tranquility of parts of Sussex. It is wrong that all we can do is telephone the answer phone at Gatwick Airport to complain. ….we do not know if each complaint will be logged separately or if our address is only logged once.” CAGNE has launched an online petition calling on the DfT to stop the new flightpaths. The usual blandishment from the airport was that they “continue to take a responsible approach to noise reduction and mitigation.”