Gatwick admits to sacrificing the lives of those in countryside to satisfy its expansion plans
The Gatwick flight path trial, and other intensified flight paths associated with Gatwick, continue to cause not only annoyance but real distress to perhaps thousands in the area. In an article reported in part of the aviation media, some of the anger and frustration comes across, as well as the callous manner in which Gatwick airport appears to view people who live in the countryside, and whose quality of life has been attacked by plane noise. Stewart Wingate is reported as saying “Why would you choose to fly a quarter of a million more planes every year over one of the world’s most densely populated cities (London) when instead you can fly them mostly over fields.” His ignorant comment about the area over-flown by Gatwick planes as just fields has enraged people. The article says Mr Wingate “appears to suggest sacrificing the lifestyle, peace and quiet of those who have chosen to live outside cities for the profit of a few – the foreign owners of Gatwick Airport.” The airport has already started the process of ‘Air Grab’ over a number of Sussex towns and villages. That is a frightening prospect when Mr Wingate has said his ambition is to make Gatwick larger than Heathrow is today.
Gatwick Airport admits to sacrificing the lives of those in countryside to satisfy its expansion plans
10.7.2014 (Airside International, in EVA International Media) by Nick Smith
[This article is in the aviation press; it is not a press release from an airport community group, though that’s what it comes across as !]
Gatwick airport has launched its opening salvo in its bid for a second runway by declaring open season on the countryside. Its chairman Stewart Wingate appears to have publicly stated that flying over the countryside in Sussex, Kent, Surrey and Hampshire is of little consequence compared to his ambitions to enlarge the airport. Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said: “Why would you choose to fly a quarter of a million more planes every year over one of the world’s most densely populated cities (London) when instead you can fly them mostly over fields.”
As Laura Standing, who has a daughter with a sensory processing disorder and lives in West Sussex, and is currently experiencing a new trial flight path directly over her house, says: “Those fields that Wingate is so disparaging about have houses on with people living in them.
Stewart Wingate is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks that Surrey, Kent and Sussex are compiled of empty fields devoid of people. “I appreciate that Gatwick airport is seeking to maximise its profits, but at any cost to the lives of those who have chosen to live in the countryside? My home, which has enjoyed peace and quiet to date, was ideal for my daughter who requires tranquility and stability to help with her autism. But this has been blown asunder by Wingate’s new flight path which flies directly above our home at under 3,000 feet. Whilst the incessant plane noise is ruining our lives it is destroying my daughter’s.”
Wingate’s assault on the countryside is being met with firm resistance. As Sally Pavey, a resident of Warnham in West Sussex says: “Firstly the planes from Gatwick are flying directly over Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), major conurbations and countless villages. To say that the route that Gatwick’s planes take is only over farm land and open fields is simply ludicrous.
“In addition, the assumption to be drawn from his comments that plane noise doesn’t travel or deviate from some perpendicular line directly under the plane is just barmy. We all know aircraft noise is loud, travels a huge distance, is intrusive and very tiring on those who receive scant relieve from it.”
Wingate appears to suggest sacrificing the lifestyle, peace and quiet of those who have chosen to live outside cities for the profit of a few – the foreign owners of Gatwick Airport.
With much of the South East already plagued by consistent aircraft noise Wingate also confirmed that Gatwick would seek to increase flights by at least another 250,000 a year, making the skies some of the busiest and most congested in the world. During a recent interview on Radio 4’s Today programme Wingate said his ambition was to make Gatwick Airport larger than Heathrow.
Caroline Tayler, who lives in the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex suggests that Stewart Wingate is just demonstrating his obvious lack of knowledge of the countryside in the South East and how densely populated its small towns, villages and hamlets actually are.
She says: “His implication is that the lives of those living in the countryside don’t matter, that somehow their lives are less important than those living in towns or cities. “He also doesn’t seem to realise, or chooses not to care, that many rural businesses rely on tranquility as part of their appeal. The increase in air traffic from Gatwick and its constant expansion plans will simply just ruin the countryside and many of its businesses.”
And not content with proposing a huge increase in air traffic Gatwick Airport, as part of its ongoing bid to secure another runway, has begun trials to widen its arc of flight paths – which is already substantial. If these flight paths are given permanent status then even more of the countryside will be burdened with additional plane noise.
Sally Pavey explains: “There is nothing stopping Gatwick Airport applying for additional flight paths anywhere in the South East. It has already started the process of ‘Air Grab’ over a number of Sussex towns and villages and it doesn’t even have approval for a second runway. If it did gain approval then the open season on the countryside will gain pace and it is unlikely that any household in the South East will be immune from repeated plane noise.”
Gatwick Airport’s first ‘Air Grab’ has targeted a number of Sussex villages which previously had been bypassed by aircraft. The planes now fly directly, or within a couple of hundred metres, over two schools and thousands of homes and businesses whilst still under 4,000 feet. And this is not the odd flight; they can come every minute for hours on end. Gatwick Airport is a 24 hour airport; unlike Heathrow which gives residents a respite from aircraft during the night. The roar of large aircraft now punctuates christenings, weddings and funerals in many Sussex villages hitherto not affected by Gatwick Airport.
And according to rules laid down by the International Standard Organisation an extra 10 decibels would be added to any recorded noise because of the reduced ambient noise in the countryside.
But this is scant comfort to David Lawton who recently moved his young family to Rusper and over the last four months reckons he has had in excess of 4,500 flights directly over his house and at a very, very low height. He says: “I knew we were buying a house near an airport and there would be some noise. Prior to purchasing I even checked the Noise Preference Routes and flight paths. But since Mr. Wingate has introduced his new trial flight path – without any warning or consultation – my family has had trouble sleeping with flights starting before 6am and continuing until after 10pm. We are all squabbling more and feel very run down from the near continual noise.
“There has been a flagrant disregard for the local community with spin, deception and poor corporate practice surrounding the introduction of the flight path trial. Gatwick has also shown no interest in engaging in a meaningful way with the affected residents, which number thousands. “Thanks to Mr. Wingate we are now living in hell. And, he now plans to make the trial flight path permanent. ”
Perhaps equally disturbing are reports from residents that planes are flying so far off their pre-determined trial routes. There are reports of residents complaining to Gatwick about flights over their houses and being sent route maps which differ considerably from reality.
The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has already had over 2,700 complaints with the figure rising rapidly. Perhaps it is the start of a clarion call for Stewart Wingate and his Gatwick brethren to rethink the effects they are having on Laura Standing’s daughter.