Speech by Major Richard Streatfeild at the Airports Commission day on Gatwick

Major Richard Streatfeild spoke very effectively at the Airports Commission evidence session on Gatwick. He represents some 18,000 people who live in 11 parish councils on the High Weald, and the High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group. Concern was first alerted earlier this year, when Gatwick changed some flight paths and started to concentrate others, causing much more aircraft noise nuisance than there had been previously. Thousands of people who had not been much over-flown in the past woke up to the new noise nuisance, and in particular, the threat of the situation deteriorating dramatically if Gatwick was allowed another runway. Richard spoke of the loss of trust and confidence in the airport, after repeatedly being told half truths, or lies. He also spoke of the torture, akin to sleep deprivation, of night flights – and gave both Sir Howard and Stewart a present of an alarm clock, set to go off once an hour – to try out for two nights …. to experience a taste of sleep deprivation. He said if Gatwick is selected, people know they will be “in a fight for our lives” and the extent of the battle will be unprecedented, through every means available. He ended by saying: “The solution is simple: Disperse the aircraft and make them fly as high as is safe, stop the night flights and do not build an additional runway.”

Sir Howard,

Thank you for the invitation to be a witness for the Airports Commission.

I am here because I have a mandate from 11 councils in the High Weald representing 18 thousand people. (High Weald Parish Councils).

I am confident that by the time this consultation period finishes the policy that started as the construct of 4 Parish Councils will be adopted either in name or in practice by all of the councils across the High Weald and further afield representing at least 200,000 people.

A year ago we did not exist, I can honestly say that we did not think believe or expect that Gatwick would make your shortlist,  We are growing exponentially and that in itself should challenge your assumptions about deliverability at Gatwick.

I speak for them and we endorse what has been said before by Crispin Blunt and Brendon Sewil. The funding risk and minimal economic benefit of Gatwick expansion is key to not meeting your stated objectives.

The environmental case is none existent.

Perhaps you think it might be socially, politically or legally more acceptable to put new capacity at Gatwick.

I am here to bear witness to the fact that it will not. Not because of the quantity of the effect but the quality. But before that I must bear witness that there has been a catastrophic breach of trust by the airport in assisting the commission in this process.

Yesterday invitations went out to local individuals and Parish Councils to give their views on the scheme. Too late – it will be white paint on the grave.

We all wish to see Gatwick as a successful regional airport so it gives me no pleasure to say they routinely lie to us. As routine business they are prepared to obfuscate, mislead and evade. They even lie about the lie.

As one of my Company Serjeant Majors was prone to say about the more errant Riflemen in my former life, they can’t even lie straight in bed.

For those in the High Weald this is the one that hurts the most. In 2012 Gatwick began to change the way they used the airspace to get more planes into Gatwick taking a longer route and flying over many more people far more often below 4000 feet.

As people began to notice, Gatwick consistently said nothing had changed. That is still their public position. It wasn’t until we got the maps from the CAA under Freedom of Information that proved the change that the chief executive of the CAA told us last week “air traffic controllers had been trying out new vectoring choices” .

We had also discovered that the head of NATS at Gatwick put on a blog in 2013 that there was a trial and the shortened flight path had been removed – Gatwick told us there was no trial and no change. Why did you lie?

They ran a consultation on new flight paths. IPSOS MORI said they would publish the results in September. GATWICK have made liars of IPSOS MORI on their behalf.

And we believe they did so in order that they didn’t have to tell you the results before you put out the consultation. Mr Wingate, why did you get IPSOS MORI to withhold the results from us and the commission?

They continue to mislead us and you – the latest one is that that a new concentrated arrivals and the second runway are not linked. We know it is not possible to get the quantity of planes into Gatwick without those new flightpaths. They are linked – why won’t you be straight with us or the commission?

So trust is gone and so will our economy.

A notable omission from the proposal and consultation documents are the 2 million tourists who come to the high Weald.

300,000 come to Hever Castle alone, to get on the Tudor trail to see the family residence of the mother of the virgin queen. What they get is Virgin Atlantic overshadowing their experience.

250,000 planes a year will kill it dead. Why won’t you release the data at the noise meter at Hever Castle that proves the extent of the intrusion and makes a lie of the noise data in the consultation documents?

Furthermore the new route goes over 6 schools. We know it will damage children’s concentration at school and expose them to high levels of pollution. The heritage, the tranquillity, the quintessential character of the English countryside of the garden of England are about to be lost to the bucket and spade airport, the returning Sunday afternoon boozy boys weekend to Prague and the 1 am flight from Geneva so the Biltons can get a little more chalet time.

Then there is the killer argument. You may have noticed the Senate intelligence committee report into the torture carried out by the CIA in so called black sites across the globe.

Second on their list of abhorrent practices was Sleep deprivation.

Long term sleep deprivation will kill you.

Our quality of life will be diminished and most importantly our life expectancy will shorten, not according to me but the World Health Organisation. It is a key difference between a good neighbour and a bad one.

Heathrow accepts a quota of 3500 night flights not campaigns to maintain 11800. That number is not sleep disturbance it is sleep deprivation.

Heathrow puts the majority of night flights before 11 30 and after 630 but Gatwick,  the bad neighbour, flies in all through the night. The better one – Heathrow – definitely puts all their flights after 0430. The bad, makes night flying as cheap as possible and won’t even acknowledge that there is anything wrong.

This is why Gatwick is such a bad neighbour right now and a will be a worse one in future.

This being the festive season, I have brought you both a Christmas present [to Sir Howard and to Stewart Wingate]. An alarm clock set for 01 something and the snooze button set for an hour. Just time to get into a deep sleep before being woken up. I challenge you to do two nights of it.

I say again and I know something of this for real -Sleep deprivation is physical torture.
So my questions are:

Do either the Commission or the airport really want to facilitate the torture and ultimately the early demise of innocent people? Why is this not costed in?

I also wish to bear witness to our determination to prevent a second runway at Gatwick. If you think the anti-Heathrow campaign is well organised and well-funded by the time 2015 is out you have my word we will make them look like the mad hatters tea party.

We know now that if Gatwick were to be chosen we would be in a fight for our lives. It would be a fight to protect some of the most vulnerable in our communities from dying before they have to, a fight to defend our quality of life from the uncaring and unscrupulous. To protect some of our most precious green and pleasant land from being desecrated for personal and corporate gain.

Sir Howard I hope you really understand what you will ignite.

We will campaign in the newspapers, in the courts, at the ballot box and in parliament. We will fight those battles in Kent, in Sussex and Surrey, in Westminster, Brussels and in Strasbourg. We will call you out in the town halls and the council chambers, in the Treasury, at Revenue and Customs, in the Channel Islands, in the boardrooms in Korea in Australia Abu Dhabi and California; we will take this fight to city, the stock exchange and the old Bailey.

Trustees will be made answerable for your actions. You will find us protesting on the runway and on the airwaves, on your way to work and on your way home. Day and night.

We will not stop and we will not give in until we have a mutually acceptable solution.

The solution is simple: Disperse the aircraft and make them fly as high as is safe, stop the night flights and do not build an additional runway.

Gatwick is big enough already.



See also two other excellent speeches delivered during the day:

Speech by Sally Pavey at the Airports Commission evidence day on Gatwick

Sally Pavey, a resident of Warnham (close to Horsham, in Sussex) set up a local group – CAGNE – in March 2014, to oppose the “ADNID” flight path trial that Gatwick airport had instigated. The new route for the ADNID flight path was concentrated, with Warnham – which had never before suffered over flight by planes from Gatwick – getting some of the worst of it. CAGNE stands for Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, and it has blossomed over the past months, as more and more people objected to being guineapigs, without warning or consultation from Gatwick – to a level of noise that made life hell for thousands. Sally spoke passionately, and effectively and among the many points she raised is the lack of trust by local communities in the airport, from repeated instances of being given wrong or partial information, or being ignored. For many, trust in the airport will never be regained. Gatwick submitted their runway plans to the Commission without even waiting for the end of its consultation with the public. Sally: “We will stand in the way of this off shore owned company. We will show them they have made a bad investment in Gatwick. We will use with every means at our disposal to stop a 2nd runway … we will not stop opposing a 2nd runway at Gatwick Airport.”

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Great speech by Crispin Blunt MP at the Airports Commission Gatwick evidence day

The Airports Commission held their second evidence day, this time on Gatwick (the Heathrow day was on 3rd December). The format of the day was to give Stewart Wingate time to set out his runway plans and promote them. There were then speeches by Henry Smith MP and Crisipin Blunt MP, as well as others from Brendon Sewill (GACC), Sally Pavey (CAGNE), and Major Richard Streatfeild (HWPCAAG) for community groups. A range of councillors then spoke, as well as three people from the business organisations. Crispin Blunt spoke very strongly against the runway proposals, and the text of his speech is copied below. Interestingly, to pick out just two comments, he said – on the financing of the project – the claimed need for commercial confidence is in error because redactions in Gatwick published documents on tax, financing, profit and loss, cash flow etc and the assumptions that underlie these figures are critical to enable MPs, the public etc to evaluate the airport’s proposal. Also that Gatwick is served only by a single rail and motorway connection. The airport, its passengers and its airlines is already dangerously vulnerable to disruption. It’s worth reading the speech.

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