Letter from a Gatwick flight path trial sufferer: “Home like bizarre noise experiment”

In a heart-felt letter to a local paper in Sussex, a resident who now finds herself – without warning – under a “trial” flight path from Gatwick airport describes how it is affecting her, and her means of earning her living at home. She says the planes start flying overhead before 6am, and continue to do so about every 5 minutes, or less, most of the day. She says, in desperation: “It’s like your home has been turned into some sort of bizarre noise experiment. Where you have no control. On some days you’re OK. The noise isn’t too bad. And on other days – it’s like getting an electric shock, every few minutes. Where you have no control. And it’s not just you – it’s your family as well …. everyone is tired, and ratty and distracted. And annoyed that they didn’t sleep well.” Part of her work requires running a webinair, which is now interrupted by the plane noise.  “That’s my work. That’s how I make a living. And I can’t even rely on the peace and quiet of my own home to be able to run my own business.”

LETTER: Home like bizarre noise experiment

Your letters (West Sussex County Times)

Published on 12 April 2014

Dear Sir
“This morning the planes started flying overhead at 5.53. And they have been flying over

every 3- 5 minutes. Some days have been better than others. Today and on 1st April were


I’m just wondering – do you have any idea about what it is like?

It’s like your home has been turned into some sort of bizarre noise experiment. Where you have no control.

On some days you’re ok. The noise isn’t too bad.

And on other days- it’s like getting an electric shock, every few minutes. Where you have no control. And it’s not just you – it’s your family as well.

And you can’t protect them. And you can’t stop the noise. And everyone is tired, and ratty and distracted. And annoyed that they didn’t sleep well.

And someone else is controlling the experiment. And you feel like a lab rat. So you complain and do what you can to stop the noise.

But the experiment keeps running.

Do you have any idea about how that feels?

I know how bad it was on 1st April, because, as part of my work I was running a parenting webinar.

Ironically it was on how parents can help their children with stress and anger!

I had to block up my window with cushions and blankets, to stop the noise from the planes interfering with the broadcast of the webinar.

That’s my work. That’s how I make a living. And I can’t even rely on the peace and quiet of my own home to be able to run my own business.

rely on the peace and quiet of my own home to be able to run my own business.


This is a photo of my window, so you can see what someone living in your ‘trial area’ is having to do to stop the aircraft noise. To earn a living.  [Blocked up with 6 sofa cushions and sections of fabric].

Please can you do what you can to stop the Gatwick trial, and ask them to use the normal flight paths, where people bought their homes knowing that they would be subject to the noise, and whose windows have glazing that is suitable for aircraft noise?”

Elizabeth  (name supplied)






New campaign group – CAGNE – formed to protest against Gatwick Airport noise

March 31, 2014

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.”     Click here to view full story…




Gatwick hopes noise compensation pledge will help it win battle for a new runway

March 28, 2014

As competition hots up to persuade the Airports Commission, and ultimately Parliament, on their own cases for building a new runway, Gatwick and Heathrow have both stressed the importance of dealing with the aircraft noise issue, or at least hoping people believe they are dealing with it. Gatwick has committed to pay annual compensation of around £1,000 to local households most affected by aircraft noise should it receive approval for a 2nd runway. Heathrow, meanwhile, has pointed to a [dubious] survey it commissioned from Populus that aircraft noise is only the 7th most important aspect of a London airport for Londoners. The Gatwick scheme would only pay up when a new runway starts to be used, and might affect around 4,100 households inside the 57 db(A) Leq noise contour. The compensation would not be paid to new residents choosing to relocate to the area once the runway is built. Earlier Gatwick announced plans to offer hundreds of local homes up to £3,000 towards double glazing and loft insulation to mitigate aircraft noise. This level of payment if offered at Heathrow would be vastly more expensive, by several orders of magnitude.

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Doubt about the Gatwick scheme to pay off residents affected by noise from 2nd runway – local resident tells it like it is !

March 14, 2014

Gatwick has offered, as part of its PR offensive to try to get opinion behind its 2nd runway, to pay £1,000 per year (the council tax on a Band A property) to 4,100 houses worst affected by noise, if it gets its runway. This is a very paltry sum compared to the negative impacts of the noise and disruption that would be caused. A local resident commented on the plan: “This is just a publicity stunt to try to get Crawley residents on board for a new runway. ….It sounds generous until you look at who gets it and how much we would lose….Even if we got the grant, it would take 150 years for the grant to cover the loss of value of our house. …. Gatwick Airport is trying to kid us that a new runway means lots of jobs for Crawley residents – but the jobs would attract incomers from the UK and the EU who would need new houses in an area that is desperately short of affordable homes…..We existing residents would see our carefully planned country town double in size to become a sprawling city spreading over green countryside….. I hope nobody will be fooled by Gatwick’s offer or by their promises of a golden future for Crawley.”

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38 Degrees petition against new flight paths trial


Campaigners at the village of Warnham near Gatwick have started a petition on 38 Degrees, to ask the DfT to put a stop to the new flight path trials sponsored by Gatwick Airport and NATS that are bringing misery to thousands of people – who are now being overflown, many times per hour, by take-offs. The area was quiet in the past, and the flight path trial was not announced before it started.




Warnham continues to suffer amid speculation about why the trial flight path was inflicted on them

March 12, 2014

The upset continues over the trial flight path from Gatwick, for take-offs, over the village of Warnham. The issue had been very badly handled by the airport, in its unsuccessful attempts to reduce the amount of complaint. Residents of Warnham feel they are just seen as “collateral damage” for the airport’s ambitions of increased profit. There is the suggestion from people in the area that the reason for the trial is that Gatwick has quietly committed to the airlines an increased number of flights over the next year. They have oversold capacity at peak travel times/dates and they cannot operationally cope if they take off using the three legally permitted take-off routes. This would mean take off delays at peak-times, which would be financially damaging to the airlines and the airport. They therefore instituted this “trial’ route to increase take-off capacity, especially at peak times, by one-third. The aim is to make this permanent. Gatwick airport is eager to show the Airports Commission that it has rising numbers of passengers and flights, to get its runway. So it has to get as much growth as it can this year. In reality, the number of flights in 2013 was lower in 2013 than in 2006, 2007, 2008 or 2009.    Click here to view full story…



Villages up in arms as new Gatwick flight path shatters their peace and quiet

March 9, 2014

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.                                           Click here to view full story…


recent meeting of the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (GATCOM) said, discussing whether residents should be warned of the trial in advance.                             GATCOM minutes of 30th January 2014:

“It was felt that parish councils in particular should be advised of trial to enable them to respond to their constituents if problems arose. Mr. Denton would consider this but emphasised the need to obtain genuine feedback from those affected. If people were aware of the trial it was possible that they would be more alert to changes and feel obliged to comment.”     ie. don’t warn them, because they might complain.


Francis Maude: Noise misery foreshadows Gatwick second runway

March 8, 2014

Francis Maude, MP for Horsham, has received a great number of letters and emails from distressed residents in Warnham and Rusper, in recent weeks, about the new flight path trial over them. They are saying they are being plagued by a constant stream of noisy aircraft taking off from Gatwick towards the west starting at 6am. Many people have complained directly to Gatwick Airport, the CAA and NATS – but have yet to be satisfied on a number of points. Most residents were not aware of any minimal consultation about the changes before they started. Francis Maude is asking for much more detail about the trials. These include on what criteria will the trial be assessed? Why does it need to continue for six months? and How is it being monitored? He says the misery currently being experienced by local residents foreshadows what would be a permanent feature of life in the area if a 2nd Gatwick runway were to be built. The amount of opposition to this trial suggests it is not being successful. Francis Maude says: “I have made my opposition to a second Gatwick runway many times in public and private, and am happy to reiterate this now.”        Click here to view full story…