New flight paths revealed in Airports Commission documents – a noise double whammy for Horsham

The Airports Commission has put out various documents in its consultation (main consultation document, main Gatwick document, other noise documents) on the issue of noise.  GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has unearthed a plan showing some possible new flight paths if a 2nd runway was built.  The Commission emphasise that the map is only illustrative and does not represent where the routes might actually be. That would only be revealed after the new runway had been given the go-ahead. There is therefore no clear detail on flight paths, with no certainty of any sort for those who fear being overflown in future. This uncertainty generates very real concern and anger. The map indicates a massive increase in noise from take-offs to the west and south-west of Gatwick, over Warnham, north Horsham with perhaps a plane per minute between the two, relatively close, flight paths.  Gatwick with two runways is planned to handle 560,000 air traffic movements a year, compared to 250,000 a year now.  The impact of these flights would be profound, over an extensive area.

New flight paths revealed – a double whammy for Horsham

17.11.2014 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

The Airports Commission has produced a plan showing possible new flight paths if a new runway were to be built at Gatwick. [–airspace.pdf   page 39 ]

This has been unearthed by GACC from the mass of documents published last week.  The plan is copied below.

2nd_runway Arr_Dep-paths_2

The Commission emphasise that the map is only illustrative and does not represent where the routes might actually be.  That would only be revealed after the new runway had been given the go-ahead.

Brendon Sewill, Chairman of GACC, commented: ‘The present flight paths are causing widespread anger across West and East Sussex, Surrey and Kent.  This new revelation will make people even more concerned.  Everyone will have the opportunity to express their anxiety at the Protest Meeting that GACC has arranged for this Saturday 22 November.’

Although the plans are described as ‘illustrative’, certain conclusions can be drawn.  Aircraft departing from the existing runway are shown using the present flight paths, except that none will use routes to the south.  Thus the number of aircraft using the present routes (except to the south) would roughly double.

All aircraft departing from the new runway to the west are shown as using two new flight paths, one over Warnham and North Horsham (on the track of the immensely unpopular ADNID trial);  and one turning sharp left to fly over the eastern side of Horsham.  Since these two flight paths would need to take all aircraft taking off to the west, Horsham – on one side or the other – would experience one plane a minute.

As Sewill said: ‘This would be a double whammy for Horsham – one plane a minute over the town.  Some of the Horsham councillors who have been so keen to support a new runway may now find they need to think again’

All aircraft taking off from the new runway to the east are shown as turning right to take a route close to East Grinstead.  Some aircraft already use this route but with a new runway it would be one plane a minute – almost continuous noise.

Arriving aircraft are shown as taking two concentrated flight paths to the east and two to the west. Sewill said: ‘GACC has been pressing NATS (air traffic control) to replace these concentrated routes by multiple routes but even so doubling the number of aircraft would ruin any remaining tranquillity in Ashdown Forest or the rural parts of West Sussex.

In a consultation earlier this year NATS suggested that all arriving aircraft should be directed to ‘merge-points’, and the Airport Commission map shows a ‘merge-point’ (or perhaps two ‘merge-points’) in the vicinity of Haywards Heath.  Sewill commented: ‘The poor people living under what are called the ‘merge-points’ would have every single aircraft over their heads.’

Experience in the past year has confirmed that new flight paths – and especially concentrated flight paths – over peaceful areas cause massive anger and distress because the previous quiet is shattered, expectations of tranquillity brutally destroyed, house values depreciated and people left trapped unable to move away without serious financial loss.

Gatwick with two runways is planned to handle 560,000 air traffic movements a year, compared to 250,000 a year at present.  [ Airports Commission Consultation Document.  November 2014 paragraph 3.11 ]  At busy times of day at present aircraft take-off or land at a rate of nearly one a minute.  With a new runway it would be nearly two a minute. 



Airports Commission documents:

Main consultation document

Document by Commission on Gatwick’s plan

Documents by  Commission on noise


Gatwick protest

The Gatwick protest  meeting will be held at The Apple Tree Centre, Ifield Avenue, Crawley from 2.00 to 3.30pm. 

Doors open 1.00 pm.

The Airports Commission paper on Gatwick airport’s runway plan says, on noise:

The Commission’s Approach to Assessing Noise Impacts

One of the key findings of the Commission’s 2013 discussion paper on Aviation Noise
was that people respond to noise in different ways. Response to noise is subjective,
and likely to be affected not only by the magnitude of the sound but also its duration,
regularity, and the time of day at which it occurs.

In order to help people understand the likely noise impacts of the three expansion
options, the Commission has assessed noise impacts in a range of different ways. The
full set of measurements can be found in our supporting annexes. In this document, we
present noise impacts in the following ways:

• day noise (L 16h 0700-2300) and night noise (L 8h 2300-0700), looking particularly Aeq Aeq at the 57 decibel level (which in the Government’s Aviation Policy Framework marks the approximate onset of significant community annoyance), and the lower 54 decibel level;
• the European 24 hour Lden measure, which puts more weight on noise that occurs in
the evening (1900-2300) or the night (2300-0700) than the daytime (0700-1900);
• N contours, which capture how many times in a day or night a population will be
exposed to a very noisy aircraft flyover (with a 70 decibel threshold for the day, and a
60 decibel threshold for the night).

The Commission’s demand forecasts have been used as the basis for measuring future
noise impacts. For each scheme, the assessment of need carbon-capped forecast has
been assessed as a ‘lower end’ case, and a ‘top end’ case has also been assessed
to understand the implications of scenarios showing higher levels of demand. For
the Gatwick Second Runway scheme the low-cost is king carbon-traded scenario
comprises the high end traffic scenario, which results in very sharp traffic increases
at Gatwick in the years immediately following the opening of a new runway and a
corresponding increase in noise impacts. This chapter first considers the lower end case,
then compares these outputs with those from the upper end.

The Commission’s modelling has been undertaken by the noise forecasting unit (ERDC)
at the CAA using their ANCON model. The Commission’s assumptions on the types of
aircraft using the airport, the population changes in overflown areas, the rate at which
aircraft ascend and descend and other important inputs to the model are all set out in
report Noise: Local Assessment. Input assumptions for the noise model can be expected
to impact the results significantly. This can be seen by comparing the results from
scheme promoters and the Commission’s modelling in the supporting annexes. A range
of noise impact results can therefore be created, depending on which particular view of
the future and associated assumptions are input into the model.

The indicative flight path designs used for noise modelling should not be taken as
showing where future flight paths would in practice be located. Creating and agreeing
airspace plans for any new runways would require significant development and public
consultation, which the Commission has not undertaken; and careful consideration of
mitigation options, as well as the impacts of new technology, could lead to significant
changes to the indicative designs.



There are pages of forecasts, scenarios, looking at various ways in which the noise at Gatwick might increase by a fair amount, by a large amount, or by an even larger amount. There is little certainty about any of it.

See pages 100 – 110 of  Gatwick Airport second runway: business case and sustainability assessment


The Commission’s consultation document states:


The Commission’s forecasts indicate that the proposed second runway at Gatwick
would see 60-96mppa, across all five of the Commission’s scenarios. These
passenger numbers would make an expanded Gatwick in 2050 broadly equivalent
in terms of passenger numbers to Frankfurt or Paris CDG airports for the lower-end
forecasts and as large as any current airport for the upper-end forecasts.