Gatwick airport makes a few cosmetic changes to its Noise Action Plan – not actually reducing noise

Gatwick airport has added a few, small changes to the Noise Action Plan that it wrote in November 2013. The airport says this is in response to comments they received to their airspace consultation from Oct 2013 to Jan 2014.  The few changes will do very little to actually reduce noise. Logically, that will not be possible, with ever increasing numbers of flights. However, the changes include: “Explore whether ‘rotating respite’ can be provided to communities most affected by noise from aircraft;” increasing CDA landings (already doing that); more consultation with residents (in the vain hope this deflects opposition);  “commission noise studies to gain an insight into the noise climate” (ongoing);  Request that the DfT explores ways to describe and measure aircraft noise more clearly to help people understand noise impacts;”  “Gatwick Airport Ltd will write to the DfT requesting research be undertaken to fully understand the effects of aircraft ion human health;” (by 2018) and “Commission public studies on noise impacts on particular areas.”  So not a lot of action by Gatwick itself.  Or any action at all really. A bit more PR – requiring careful reading of the small print. 


Gatwick publishes revised Noise Action Plan

25 September 2014

Following recent consultations with the local community, Gatwick Airport has today published a revised Noise Action Plan.

The plan says the airport will:

  • Explore whether ‘rotating respite’ can be provided to communities most affected by noise from aircraft – potentially benefiting more than 11,000 residents
  • Explore other innovative methods to minimise noise – such as the airport’s continuous descent approach, where aircraft use less thrust by gliding and descending at a continuous rate. This approach keeps the aircraft higher for longer and generates significantly less noise.
  • Consult with local residents on the measures above.
  • Request that the Department of Transport (DfT) explores ways to describe and measure aircraft noise more clearly to help people understand noise impacts.
  • Ask the DfT to undertake research on effects of aircraft noise on human health.
  • Commission public studies on noise impacts on particular areas.

Independent experts say Gatwick is among the leading airports worldwide with regards to noise mitigation and compensation measures. However Gatwick recognises that much has still to be done to realise the airport’s long term objective of gaining the trust of our stakeholders.

The plan outlines Gatwick’s continued commitment to minimise the impacts of aircraft noise. To achieve this, Gatwick will continue to:

  • Use the quietest aircraft fleets possible. To this end, 99% of the aircraft currently using Gatwick are of the quietest type possible. One way Gatwick achieves this is by incentivising airlines by charging them less to use quieter aircraft.
  • Employ effective and credible noise mitigation schemes. This includes Gatwick’s industry leading noise insulation scheme which provides homes with up to £3,000 towards double glazing and loft insulation. The scheme has recently been expanded by 15km each end of the runway so that 40% more homes are protected from noise than before.
  • Engage with the local community to better understand their concerns and priorities so that the airport’s noise strategies and plans are well informed. Gatwick has introduced an annual noise seminar and is committed to reporting annually on the airport’s performance against its action plan and its effectiveness in addressing community concerns.

Noise generated by the airport has been steadily reduced in the last 15 years. This is demonstrated by the land area (noise contour) covered by the loudest noise levels reducing from 90km² to 41km² during this time.

Tom Denton, Head of Corporate Responsibility at London Gatwick, said:

“We have reduced noise generated by the airport in recent years, but we are not complacent. We understand that noise has an impact on our local communities and we strive to do everything possible to mitigate its effects.

“Our revised Noise Action Plan demonstrates how Gatwick will employ some of the world’s most innovative methods to reduce aircraft noise. Our plans will also evolve and we will adopt the latest advances in technology and leading practices as soon as is practicably possible.”

To read the revised Noise Action Plan click here.

For more information contact:

Gatwick Airport press office

t: + 44 (0) 1293 505000


 The revised Noise Action Plan is at

It is dated November 2013

It states, in a footnote at the end:

“This EU Environmental Noise Directive (2002/49/EC) Noise Action Plan for London Gatwick Airport was adopted on 4th August 2014 by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as required by the Environmental Noise Directive and the Environmental
Noise (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended).”

The only visible changes, and almost the only mention of changes, are on Pages 23, 45, 49 and 51. The changes are otherwise not clearly indicated, or dated, in the text. They may exist.

These are the changes clearly indicated in the revised Noise Action Plan:

Gatwick Noise Action Plan changes Nov 2013 amended Aug 2014


The introduction by Stewart Wingate (with  no date) on page 3 states:

“This action plan was duly adopted and in light of new noise mapping, we have now
reviewed, revised and refreshed it taking account of operational updates, proposed
new activities relating to noise and progress made against current action plan actions.
Having taken feedback on the revised Noise Action Plan into account we have included
a number of new actions and these are detailed in the Action Plan Update Tracker
later in this document.”

[There is no “Action Plan Update Tracker” in the document, but the document’s Section 9 starting on page 45 called “Our Action Plan”is presumably what the earlier comment refers to. Gatwick, as in their airspace consultation, would not win any prizes for the clarity of their documents]. 

Their section on the earlier consultation states (P 23):

The London Airspace Consultation The London Airspace Consultation ran from 15 October 2013 to 21 January 2014 and was a joint consultation between NATS and Gatwick Airport Ltd. New European legislation required all member States, including the UK, to revise their
airspace to incorporate the latest aircraft navigation capability. The consultation was about how best to enable that change.

This consultation was the first stage in a wider programme of proposed changes to deliver the UK’s Future Airspace Policy, developed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with the support of the aviation industry. It will deliver significant benefits, including fuel savings for
airlines which will also mean fewer CO2 emissions, and less noise overall for people living below.

This first stage addressed changes to the airspace supporting Gatwick Airport from ground level up, and to the airspace supporting London City Airport above 4,000ft. Later stages will address proposals for airspace supporting other parts of the London airports network, to
be complete, by 2020.

The following points should be noted:
• We consulted on broad areas of airspace within which routes will need to be positioned. Final route positions will be determined after considering the consultation feedback

• The net effect of these proposals will be less noise – aircraft will climb higher, more quickly on departure and stay higher for longer on arrival

• However, flight paths will change, some areas may be overflown more, others less and some will not notice any significant change

• We include the possibility of “respite routes” – additional routes that could provide some predictable respite from noise for people living below flight paths near Gatwick

• Our new design concept, making the most of modern navigation capability, will significantly reduce the use of conventional holds (or stacks), and put new route structures over the sea
where possible

• This change will improve efficiency – reducing the average amount of CO2 emitted by each flight




Responses to the Gatwick airspace consultation (closed 16th August)

On 23rd May Gatwick launched a consultation on airspace changes it proposes. This is part of the airspace change programme to “modernise” flight paths, in line with the UK Future Airspace Strategy published by the CAA. The consultation was widely regarded as inadequate, badly written and presented, and effectively almost impossible for ordinary people – unused to the jargon and the technicalities – to either understand or respond to. The consultation finally ended on 16th August. Many organisations, and MPs, have asked for the consultation to be considered void, due to its deficiencies, and re-done to include maps, showing all proposed flight paths at Gatwick for arrivals and departures up to 10,000 feet. These were not included before, making responses difficult. These are some of the consultation responses sent in from local councils and parishes, representing their members. They all comment negatively on the quality of the consultation. One comments: “The air travel industry appears to be in total denial of the collateral damage which would be caused by these proposals”

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Gatwick flight path changes revealed as 12 week airspace consultation launched

Gatwick airport has started another consultation on changes to its flight paths. This will last for 12 weeks and end on 15th August. The earlier “consultation” done by Gatwick, that ended on 15th May did not include any flight path details, which many who attended the exhibitions found frustrating. Gatwick’s consultation is complex and not intended to be easy for a non-expert to understand. It is rich in acronyms and jargon, that is not properly explained. One could conjecture that making the consultation so hard to understand is deliberate. At its heart the consultation is about Gatwick managing to get more planes using its current flight paths, with changes to get planes taking off separating earlier, so more planes can use the runway with shorter intervals between them. There remains the issue of whether the noise should be concentrated down narrow routes, or dispersed in “swathes” of several kilometres. The Noise Preferential Routes, for planes below 3,000 feet or 4,000 feet, are meant to be routes where the least noise nuisance is caused. However, planes above 4,000 feet are still a real noise irritation. Gatwick’s proposals for more planes on more routes will mean many more people being exposed to a lot more plane noise, either way.

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