Gatwick admits defeat and is postponing new flight paths in the face of vocal opposition
Gatwick is postponing the planned introduction of new flight paths, as a result of massive opposition. A proposed new departure flight path to the west, outlined in a recent consultation, has been postponed. This will set an important precedent for similar new flight paths proposed at Heathrow and at Birmingham. A new procedure for arriving aircraft – the point-merge system – proposed by NATS has also been postponed, in the face of widespread concern expressed across East and West Sussex, and Kent. A new flight path recently introduced over Beare Green, Holmwood, Reigate and Redhill is currently under review by the CAA. But other new concentrated departure tracks – which have resulted in a wave of agonised complaints, and vocal new anti-noise groups, up to 20 miles around the airport – remain in position. Brendon Sewill, chairman of the GACC Gatwick’s Big Enough campaign, wants not only a postponement, but all new routes cancelled. It is thought that Gatwick may have ordered the postponement as they realise the protests were undermining their case for a new runway. A new runway, with twice as many aircraft as now, would be far worse than the present situation. Determined opposition will continue, for as long as it takes.
Gatwick admits defeat on flight paths
1.10.2014 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Gatwick Airport has announced that it is postponing the planned introduction of new flight paths (copied below – original on Gatwick website).
As a result of massive opposition, the introduction of a new departure flight path to the west, outlined in a recent consultation, has been postponed. This will set an important precedent for similar new flight paths proposed at Heathrow and at Birmingham.
A new procedure for arriving aircraft – the point-merge system – proposed by NATS (National Air Traffic Services) has also been postponed in the face of widespread concern expressed across East and West Sussex.
A new flight path recently introduced over Beare Green, Holmwood, Reigate and Redhill is currently under review by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).
However the other new concentrated departure tracks – which have resulted in a wave of agonised complaints up to 20 miles around the airport, and the formation of several new and vocal anti-noise groups – remain in position.
Brendon Sewill, chairman of the GACC Gatwick’s Big Enough campaign, said ‘This is a victory, but only a partial victory so far. It’s not all routes, and it’s only a postponement. We want to see all new routes cancelled.’
Sally Pavey, GACC committee member and leader of CAGNE which has campaigned –powerfully and now successfully – against the trial of a new flight path over Warnham and other villages, added: ‘The fight must go on.’
It is thought that Gatwick Airport bosses may have ordered the postponement because they realised that the protests were undermining their case for a new runway. But GACC will continue the protests, pointing out that a new runway, with twice as many aircraft, would be far worse than the present situation.
Gatwick Airport Ltd press release
30 September 2014
However, the Civil Aviation Authority’s Future Airspace Strategy requires that changes to local airspace are implemented by 2020, so today’s decision is a deferral or an extension of the timeline, not a cancelation of the process altogether.
Gatwick Airport approached NATS with the suggestion to defer any proposals following consultation with GATCOM and NATMAG – the noise and track monitoring advisory group that brings together representatives from the Department of Transport, NATS, airlines, Gatwick Airport and local authorities.
The additional time will allow Gatwick to do as much as possible to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on local residents. Gatwick Airport proposes using the longer timeframe to:
- Reflect further on the feedback received during local consultations
- Undertake detailed analysis work on final route options
- Undertake further work on the possibility to introduce more respite for residents most affected by noise (including between 4000 and 7000 feet).
- Consider how Gatwick can engage better on any new flight change options, including by developing a more detailed programme of engagement through GATCOM
In addition, NATS also agreed to delay implementing any changes to airspace above 4000 feet.
When any changes to airspace operation are eventually identified, Gatwick Airport believes it would be preferable for both Gatwick and NATS to submit their proposed changes to the Civil Aviation Authority for review at the same time, so as to avoid unnecessary confusion in the community or any period of prolonged uncertainty. The local community will also be appropriately engaged on any future proposals to change the use of airspace around Gatwick.
Tom Denton, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Gatwick Airport, said:
“We are taking more time to review the flight change options we have consulted on in order to further consider all the feedback received before making any airspace change proposals. It is clear that airspace change is a sensitive issue for the communities around the airport and we encourage members of the community to engage fully with their GATCOM representative.”
Dr John Godfrey, Chair, GATCOM, said:
“I am pleased that the important role GATCOM has played in ensuring that the serious concerns of communities were addressed by the airport and NATS has been successful. GATCOM provides that vital link between the wider communities around Gatwick and the airport’s management enabling the communities’ voices to be heard. This has resulted in the Committee’s call for detailed consideration of feedback on the London airspace consultation options and the need for further consultation being positively acted upon.”
“GATCOM will continue to ensure that all parties are appropriately engaged and affected communities kept informed of progress and consulted.”
NATS postpones network changes relating to Gatwick
1.10.2014 (NATS press release)
NATS has decided to postpone the submission of proposed high level network changes (above 4,000ft) relating to Gatwick Airport, which was part of Phase 1 of the London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP).
This postponement follows the airport’s decision to undertake additional analysis in order to better understand their options and next steps for the low level airspace that they are responsible for (primarily routes below 4,000ft).
NATS remains confident that the proposals being developed for the higher level airspace network over the whole of the south east, including those for aircraft using Gatwick Airport, are robust and in line with CAA/DfT requirements.
NATS is still committed to delivering changes to the high level network, in phases, out to 2020; this programme of change will meet CAA requirements and is part of the Government’s Future Airspace Strategy (FAS). The FAS constitutes the biggest change ever undertaken to UK airspace structures and modernising the airspace system is essential for the UK and Europe to remain competitive in the global market.
The FAS related changes to the route network will significantly reduce fuel and CO2 from aviation however, the delivery of these benefits for the network serving Gatwick will now be delayed.