Gatwick now only allows noise complaints by online form (or paper post) – no longer by phone or email
After changing flight paths in 2014, Gatwick made other changes to flight paths that have affected a lot of people. Many who only had the occasional plane over them now find themselves subjected to one every 5 minutes or less, for hours on end, day after day. Gatwick has also slightly increased its numbers of flights. So people complained. The airport found itself inundated with complaints (which it rather charmingly calls “enquiries”). The number rose 6-fold in a year. Gatwick then changed the system so there could only be one noise complaint per household per day. Gatwick has now found a way to cut the complaints. While in the past people could email or phone their complaint, – now the only means of complaint is filling in a relatively long internet form. Or sending in a complaint by paper post, which has now been made Freepost. This new system means anyone not able to access the internet is effectively prevented from complaining, unless they want to rack up bills. Under the new system there is no limit on the number of complaints per day but each time the ten lines of required information for the form must be filled in. Why is Gatwick so unhelpful? At least the complaint system at Heathrow allows someone to email, or phone and speak to a person. Gatwick’s treatment of its neighbours seems to have taken a further, downward, turn. Not being selected for a new runway, it has given up on any sort of charm offensive with the local residents.
How to reduce complaints about aircraft noise – make complaining too difficult
6.11.2016 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
After the success of its campaign against a second runway, GACC is returning to its basic task of alleviating the impact of the airport on local residents. As a first step they are weighing in against the new complaints system introduced by Gatwick Airport Ltd, describing it as ‘a clever way to discourage complaints’.
According to GACC vice-chairman, Peter Barclay, ‘when Gatwick introduced new flight paths in 2013 the result was a six-fold increase in the number of complaints. To deal with this the airport dreamt up a wonderful idea: no one was permitted to complain more than once a day! Or if they did, their complaints were put in the bin. Now Gatwick has invented a new way of reducing complaints.’
Under the new system there is no longer a limit on the number per day but anyone who is annoyed by an aircraft is required to complain online, filling up a detailed form (with ten lines of required information) for each separate complaint. Telephone calls are no longer accepted (the chance of being able to speak to a real person was withdrawn long ago). Emails are no longer accepted. But as a helpful gesture people are allowed to write in, so each complaint will cost 55p in postage.
Peter asks: ‘Why is Gatwick so unhelpful? Both Heathrow and Stansted airports have complaint systems which allow telephone calls and email.’
Recent research shows that 5.9 million people in the UK have never used the internet. 27% of disabled adults have never used the internet.
The only way to complain about Gatwick noise now
See new system.
You have to fill in the form with your name and address etc. That is fair enough.
You can only complain under certain categories.
There are only two options – complain about a specific aircraft event, or make a general complaint about aircraft noise.
If you complain about a specific aircraft event, you have to give the date and the time, and whether it was a 2 or 4 engine plane (of if you could not see it and so don’t know).
Then you are obliged to agree with one or other statement – from a drop down box – as shown in the image below. You cannot proceed till you have ticked one or other.
There are several other options, which you have to choose.
Only finally, after having to tick various boxes (that may, or may not, be what you want to say) are you allowed to write in your own words what your complaint is.
GACC says: How to complain about noise
It is important that you complain if you are annoyed by aircraft to or from Gatwick. Otherwise the airport will get away with suggesting that Gatwick is surrounded by empty fields and only a few people who are undisturbed by aircraft. The complaints system was changed in October 2016. See new system.
1. Freephone 0800 393 070. Now withdrawn.
2. email. Now withdrawn.
3. Web site flight tracker at http://flighttracking.casper.aero/lgw/ This flight tracking chart shows flights over the past six months up to the present (with a twenty minute delay). So if you enter the date and time of the event in the top left hand corner and your own location a little further down the left hand panel you will be able to identify the aircraft concerned. Click on the icon of that aircraft and a facility to make a complaint “Make a noise enquiry about this aircraft.” will open just above the flight details in the panel.
This is what is on the Gatwick airport website:
If you want to know more about noise from planes or the airport, or have a specific complaint, then please contact our Flight Performance Team (FPT).
The FPT provides information to the public and responds to any comments you might have. They monitor the noise levels and track-keeping of all departing aircraft and answer complaints. They also give information about flight paths, for example to prospective home-buyers, and provide statistics to the airport’s independent Consultative Committee, which is made up of local councillors, airlines, passenger and pressure groups.
Please contact us by using our noise enquiry form. That way we can get all the information we need from you and get back to you in the quickest time.
Alternatively you can write to the address below. (After protest, Gatwick has now made this Freepost – before it would have been 55p per complaint for the stamp, 2nd classl).
Freepost GATWICK AIRPORT FLIGHT PERFORMANCE TEAM
We have a published policy on our procedure for how we deal with noise complaints. You can read our policy here.
NOT GUILTY of annoying the airport by complaining for 4 years about Gatwick aircraft noise
Date added: February 16, 2011
An elderly lady, Ann Jones, was recently arrested, at the instigation of Gatwick Airport, for lodging too many complaints with the airport noise complaints line. She was charged with the criminal offence of using a telephone to cause annoyance or anxiety – although she only spoke to an airport answerphone set up to receive noise complaints. She was taken to court but found not guilty. GACC said it was a disgrace the case had ever been brought, wasting public money. Ann Jones had adopted the tactic of ringing the airport answerphone each time she heard a plane. Although unusual, the court decided that this was not illegal. As Ann said: “What is the point of having a complaints service if one can’t use it to complain?”
Heathrow’s noise complaint system
By contrast, at Heathrow there are more ways to complain (and they do at least call them complaints rather than “enquiries”:
Their noise complaint page is at http://www.heathrow.com/noise/what-you-can-do/make-a-complaint-about-noise
Make a complaint about noise
We appreciate that aircraft noise disturbs people and you have the right to make a complaint to us if you want to.
There are four ways you can make a complaint about noise. You can:
1. Complete the complaint form
Use the online form (on the page) below to submit your complaint.
2. Email us
We are happy for you to send us an email.
3. Phone us
You are very welcome to call and speak to the Community Relations team if that suits you best.
4. Track a flight on Webtrak
Click the ‘Investigate’ tab, top left, under the Heathrow logo and follow the instructions to find the correct flight.
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and they say under
What happens to complaints?
We will respond to all complaints within five working days (as long as we have all the contact details we need). If we need to do more investigation, we will let you know within the five days and tell you when you will get a complete answer.
We aim to provide a full and comprehensive information service but we do have to consider the resources we have available, to ensure all complainants are treated equitably.
Type of information provided
We supply information which explains the relevant procedures and includes maps for a complainant’s postcode area. We will also do our best to provide details of particular flights.
Use of complaint data
We only use your personal details for registering complaint details. We do not make them public or use them for any other purpose.
All complaints are reported daily on our Heathrow Operational Data website, in the airport’s quarterly Flight Performance Reports and to the Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee (HACC).
We monitor complaints for trends to inform our noise management priorities but flight paths are not changed purely on the basis of the number of complaints received from a particular area.
For more information read our complaints policy
Included in the Complaints Policy it states:
Complaint reference numbers
All complaints made by email or through our online webform, will be recorded and a complaint reference number will be sent automatically via email. All complaints by phone, voicemail, or letter will be recorded and a complaint reference number will be provided on request. Where complaints are made about multiple aircraft events within one email or webform, only one complaint will be recorded. Complaints about separate aircraft events should be made using separate emails or webforms if residents wish these to be recorded as multiple complaints.
Where we have explained the policies and noise measures which affect the complainant’s postcode area and have previously supplied sufficient amounts of data to the extent that we are unable to further enhance understanding, we will notify the complainant of our intention to continue to record their complaints and provide complaint reference numbers but will not provide any further explanation or information to them, unless relevant. Where this is the case, we will inform the caller of our intention to do this and outline previous correspondence supplied to them.
and there is more at http://www.heathrow.com/file_source/HeathrowNoise/Static/noise_complaints_policy.pdf