Local group, PAGNE, at Pulborough and Amberley, in the South Downs, working to get reduction in Gatwick noise

Though at least 20 – 25 kilometres away from Gatwick, the area of Pulborough and Amberley, in the South Downs National Park, suffer from plane noise.  A local group – PAGNE, Pulborough Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions – formed last year to oppose the changed Gatwick flight paths. They are affected by arrivals into Gatwick, especially when there are easterly winds, and planes land at Gatwick from the west – which happens around 30 – 35% of the year. Due to the height of parts of Amberley, rising to well over 500 feet, the noise from planes are around 5,000 feet is significantly greater than would be experienced at sea level.  PAGNE’s Chairman, Ian Hare, said he was working with other flight path groups around Gatwick and with groups around Heathrow to press the government to get flight paths dispersed without any concentration over rural areas.  PAGNE also wants aircraft to come in at a higher altitude.  Current government guidance is for air traffic management to prioritise minimisation of noise below 4,000 feet; balancing noise and CO2 emissions from 4,000 to 7,000 feet; and prioritising CO2 emissions over 7,000 feet.  Groups want noise prioritised up to 7,000 feet, because of the impacts on those being over flown.



Protest group PAGNE focuses on Gatwick flight paths

Ian Hare addresses the meeting
Ian Hare addresses the meeting
23 October 2015  (West Sussex County Times)

A protest group told Amberley Society that it has had some success in its campaign against Gatwick aircraft noise.

Pulborough Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (PAGNE) chairman Ian Hare said his main topic for the meeting was the growing number of flight arrivals.

He said that when there is an easterly wind – about 35% of the time – planes approaching Gatwick fly low over Pulborough and Amberley, causing ‘pronounced air traffic noise’.  [The highest point of Amberley reaches to 180 metres, which is around 580 feet, in the South Downs National Park].

Screenshot from Casper showing some of the Gatwick flight trails around the area


Pulborough is around 20 kilometres south west of Gatwick, and Amberley is around 5 km further south.

Ian said PAGNE and other action groups around both Gatwick and Heathrow want to see flight paths dispersed without any concentration over rural areas.  PAGNE also wants aircraft to descend from a much higher altitude, with noise as the primary consideration up to 7,000ft.   [ DfT Guidance to the CAA on air navigation prioritises reducing environmental impacts like noise at heights below 4,000 feet, balancing impacts like noise with CO2 savings between 4,000 and about 7,000 feet and prioritising CO2 savings at altitudes higher than 7,000 feet.  Gatwick Airport Ltd is responsible for flight paths below 4,000 feet.  NATS (National Air Traffic Services) is responsible for flights above that height.]

“A ban on night flights would also be nice,” he said, “but realistically, that might be harder to achieve than some of our other objectives.”

He went on to explain that the action groups had achieved some notable progress.

Easyjet is now retro-fitting a device to the Airbus A320 to significantly reduce whine from the aircraft; and Gatwick Airport has arranged a series of meetings this autumn with NATS, the air traffic control organisation, to consult over better use of airspace.  See link

Grahame Joseph, Chairman of the Amberley Society said: “We arranged the meeting in response to public demand in order to better understand the problems and gauge the weight of opinion and level of interest on the subject of aircraft noise.
“It was a good evening of debate and has raised public awareness in the village.”




DfT document, Guidance to the Civil Aviation Authority
on Environmental Objectives Relating to the Exercise of its Air Navigation Functions

January 2014

This states:

4.1 The usual maximum altitude for a Noise Preferential Route (NPR) is 4,000 feet (amsl – above mean sea level) and this reflects the long standing view that noise from aircraft flying above this level is much less likely to affect the key noise metrics used for determining significant community impacts. As aircraft continue to climb from 4,000 feet (amsl) their noise impact reduces. Set against this, there is also a need to ensure that aircraft operations are efficient and that their emissions are minimised. So when considering airspace change requests, the CAA should keep in mind the following altitude-based priorities:

in the airspace from the ground to 4,000 feet (amsl) the Government’s environmental priority is to minimise the noise impact of aircraft and the number of people on the ground significantly affected by it;

where options for route design below 4,000 feet (amsl) are similar in terms of impact on densely populated areas the value of maintaining legacy arrangements should be taken into consideration;

in the airspace from 4,000 feet (amsl) to 7,000 feet (amsl), the focus should continue to be minimising the impact of aviation noise on densely populated areas, but the CAA may also balance this requirement by taking into account the need for an efficient and expeditious flow of traffic that minimises emissions;

in the airspace above 7,000 feet (amsl), the CAA should promote the most efficient use of airspace with a view to minimising aircraft emissions and mitigating the impact of noise is no longer a priority;

where practicable, and without a significant detrimental impact on efficient aircraft operations or noise impact on populated areas, airspace routes below 7,000 feet (amsl) should, where possible, be avoided over Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and National Parks as per Chapter 8.1 of this Guidance; and

all changes below 7,000 feet (amsl) should take into account local circumstances in the development of airspace structures.