Gatwick objects to new hospice due to increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’ – as within 13 km radius of airport

Under guidance from the DfT, airports have to be statutory consultees for any planning application within a radius of 13 km of the airport, that might have an impact on it, for a variety of reasons. One of these is the risk of bird strike, and so new developments that might attract birds are opposed. Now Gatwick Airport has objected to plans for a new hospice and homes in Pease Pottage [south of Crawley, and about 6km south of Gatwick airport] due to an increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’. St Catherine’s Hospice would provide a 48-bed care facility, and there would also be up to 600 new homes, cafe, a community building, retail units, and a new primary school. The current hospice has only 18 beds, and is not able to cater for the number of people needing palliative support in the area  nor has sufficient family areas. Gatwick says the areas of open water in the application would attract birds large enough to endanger planes, including  feral geese, duck, grey heron and cormorants – especially if the public feed them. Gatwick also fear the mown grassland would provide a grazing habitat for birds. Gatwick wants minimal water. Airports keep their grassed areas as unappealing to bird life as possible. Gatwick set out, for the Airports Commission, what it would do to “control and where possible reduce bird hazard.”



Gatwick airport objects to new hospice due to increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’

31 December 2015

Link to map showing location of Pease Pottage in relation to Gatwick

Gatwick Airport has objected to plans for a new hospice and homes in Pease Pottage [south of Crawley, and about 6km south of Gatwick airport] due to an increase in ‘bird strike risk hazard’.

St Catherine’s Hospice has partnered with Thakeham Homes to promote a new development on land off Brighton Road for a 48-bed care facility, up to 600 new homes, cafe, a community building, retail units, and a new primary school.

The hospice, based in Malthouse Road, Crawley, has 18 inpatient beds, but is not currently able to cater for the amount of people needing palliative support in the area and has limited family areas.

However Gatwick, as a consultee, has objected to the application as it stands, as it believes the open water in the proposed ponds will attract birds ‘hazardous to aircraft’ such as feral geese, duck, grey heron and cormorants.

Birds can cause damage to aircraft either by being sucked into the engines or by colliding with the windscreen, as happened in 2009 when a plane was forced to safely land in New York’s Hudson River shortly after take off.

Gatwick’s consultation response, sent to Mid Sussex District Council as the local planning authority, read: “As this is a residential development it is envisaged that feeding of the birds by the general public is highly likely, thus creating an additional attractant to these birds.”

It also suggested that the grassland surrounding the water bodies, if mown short, could create a grazing habitat for birds, and suggested that open water should be reduced to a minimum.

Meanwhile Highways England has raised concerns that proposals have the potential to impact the ‘safe and efficient operation of the strategic road network’, in this case the M23 at junction 11, and part of the A23.
It has asked for more information to be provided in the application’s transport assessment and travel plans, as well as a commitment from Metrobus that it will extend the number 1 service from Broadfield.

However a number of residents have written to the district council in support of the application, describing a new facility to care for terminally-ill people as a ‘no-brainer’.

One resident added: “There should be no debate, this facility is urgently needed in the area and this site represents the best location.”

Giles Tomsett, chief executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, urged the council to recognise the wider benefits the application will offer as the hospice is a ‘strategic asset to the wider health economy’.
Although the charity has received a number of sizeable donations towards the new hospice project, it still needs to raise another £6m if planning approval is granted.

Residents can respond to the application’s consultation on MSDC’s planning portal.




Guidance from the DfT 4.11.2005

Safeguarding aerodromes, technical sites and military explosives storage areas

this includes:

Aerodrome safeguarding maps: “Birdstrike” hazard

Birdstrikes are one of the major controllable hazards to aviation. Common birds have caused catastrophic accidents to all types of aircraft. Most birdstrikes occur on or near aerodromes but, because birds are very mobile, features far beyond an aerodrome boundary may increase the hazard. If a man-made development provides feeding, roosting or breeding opportunities, or shelter and security, it may, depending on the siting of the development and the species which it attracts, increase the number of birds visiting or overflying an aerodrome or the number of birds in the airspace used by aircraft. Gulls and starlings congregate in very large overnight roosts and travel long distances daily, while waterfowl are large and often fly in close formation. There is only limited scope for taking action on aerodromes to counter these hazards, and safeguarding may be the only effective means of reducing the risk to aircraft in flight.

The primary aim is to guard against new or increased hazards caused by development. The most important types of development in this respect are: facilities intended for the handling, compaction, treatment or disposal of household or commercial wastes, which attract a variety of species, including gulls, starlings, lapwings and corvids; the creation or modification of areas of water such as reservoirs, lakes, ponds, wetlands and marshes, which attract gulls and waterfowl; nature reserves and bird sanctuaries; and sewage disposal and treatment plant and outfalls, which can attract gulls and other species. Planting trees and bushes normally creates a bird hazard only when it takes place relatively near to an aerodrome, but a potential starling roost site further away from an aerodrome can create a hazard. Mineral extraction and quarrying can also create a bird hazard because, although these processes do not in themselves attract birds, the sites are commonly used for landfill or the creation of wetland.

In order to protect aerodromes against these hazards, safeguarding maps include, in addition to the requirements related to the height of buildings and structures, a dotted circle, with a 13 kilometre radius in the case of civil aerodromes and an eight mile (about 12.87 kilometre) radius in the case of military aerodromes, centred on the safeguarded aerodrome reference point to indicate the area within which developments likely to attract birds require similar consultation. Local planning authorities are required to consult the relevant consultee before granting planning permission for any development within the relevant radius of an officially safeguarded civil or military aerodrome which is likely to attract birds. Whether or not a development is likely to attract birds will depend on a number of factors. A local planning authority will need to consider not only the individual potential bird attractant features of a proposed development but also whether the development, when combined with existing land features, will make the safeguarded area, or parts of it, more attractive to birds or create a hazard such as bird flightlines across aircraft flightpaths.





Gatwick Airport’s

A Second Runway for Gatwick Appendix A10 Biodiversity

May 2014 for the Airports Commission

In practical terms, measures are taken to deny birds feeding, nesting, loafing and roosting through careful design, good estate management and use of dispersal action/scaring where necessary. There are restrictions with respect to planting trees, landscaping, and also in relation to the planting palette, e.g. that the species used should not be berry bearing. New ponds or open water courses are generally required to be netted to prevent bird hazard. 3.9 The Airport is required to be consulted by the Local Planning Authorities on proposed developments that have the potential to be bird attractant within 13 km of the aerodrome.


We remain fully committed to the maintenance of diverse habitats in and alongside the River Mole, and likewise in areas of countryside that we own to the east of the railway, subject to aerodrome safeguarding requirements which, for example, require us to avoid the use of plant species, or the creation of habitats, attractive to large flocking birds. We also have a commitment to replace trees that are lost as a consequence of airport development and, as well as attending to the land within our ownership, we support good countryside management in Gatwick’s vicinity’.


The Airport will continue to be required to control and where possible reduce bird hazard within and around its environs and the CAA will expect that bird hazard is not increased as a result of the proposals as per the directive in CAP772. This will require an understanding of the risks the present habitat poses to aircraft operations, and also the context of the development in respect of the mosaic of surrounding habitats in the Low Weald NCA. In developing proposals Gatwick will consult with the CAA, Natural England and the Environment Agency.


The on-site grassland provides particular opportunities for mitigation and enhancement of airfield grasslands, even though the areas concerned are managed carefully by the Airport to reduce bird hazard. These grassland areas can be designed to have low nutrient soils, which in the longer term (10 years or so) would effectively develop into low productivity lowland grassland. It is recognized that the mowing regime would militate against achieving high floral diversity. Nevertheless, the large area coupled with an appropriate management regime would achieve an equivalent resource to that being displaced by the airport extension. Despite close wildlife hazard management by Airports, such airside grasslands have been known to develop to support population of Brown Hare and Skylark. [!!!]


In circumstances where new habitat is proposed to offset that which is lost, the CAA will require to be consulted closely as will Natural England and the Environment Agency, so as to ensure that risks from Bird Hazard are not increased.





Information from Biggin Hill airport on its rights as a statutory consultee, on planning applications within a 13 km radius of the airport:

This states (some extracts below) :

Birdstrike – controlling developments (e.g. water features and waste disposal sites) which have the potential to increase the number of birds or the bird hazard risk.

The Local Planning Authority is required to consult the Airport, when considering developments where the height of a proposed building or structure would exceed the level indicated on the safeguarding map.

The map also includes a dotted circle with a 13km radius, around Biggin Hill Airport to indicate the area within which developments likely to attract birds require consultation of the Airport. Such applications include: facilities for handling compaction, treatment or disposal of household or commercial wastes, the creation or modification of areas of water such as reservoirs, lakes, ponds, wetlands and marshes, nature reserves and bird sanctuaries, and sewage disposal and treatment plant. Applications for development of this nature should be accompanied by a Birdstrike Hazard Assessment.

Consultation is required not just on full or outline planning applications, but for an application for the amendment of an outline planning permission or an application for the removal or modification of conditions imposed on a previous planning permission.

When consulted on the type of proposed developments outlined above, the Airport considers whether the proposals could compromise the safe operation of the Airport, impair the performance of aircraft, airport navigation or Instrument Flight Procedures or cause a birdstrike hazard. The Airport will respond in writing to the relevant Local Planning Authority accordingly. If the Airport has insufficient information to consider the proposed development they will submit a holding objection to the Local Planning Authority requesting further information. This could delay the determination of a planning application.




See earlier:

Birds of prey and robot bird being used to keep birds away from airports