GACC asks Gatwick to build back better – less noise, no night flights
Flights using Gatwick will slowly restart from 15th June, so noise, air pollution and CO2 emissions are set to increase again. Local campaigners, GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) are asking Gatwick to embed noise and other environmental improvements into their recovery plans. During Covid lockdown, Gatwick was only open for a period each afternoon and evening with no night flights. People normally adversely affected by plane noise have benefited hugely from the welcome break from plane intrusion. GACC wants a continuing ban on night flights, especially as air traffic will not return to pre-Covid levels for an unknown time. The Covid pandemic is a unique opportunity for the airport to re-establish a pattern of working that is less environmentally damaging, in terms of noise and carbon. GACC is asking that as well as a night ban, airlines should prioritise flying their least noisy aircraft in their fleets – and provide incentives that encourage airlines permanently to retire older, noisier and more polluting aircraft. Also to use air traffic control to disperse noise, minimise arrival noise impact, and achieve higher, quicker, departures.
GACC ASKS GATWICK AIRPORT TO BUILD BACK BETTER
15.6.2020 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
Flights using Gatwick are expected to increase from 15 June when the airport’s opening hours increase and some airlines recommence operations.
Noise, air pollution and carbon dioxide emission levels are set to increase again.
GACC asks Gatwick to embed noise and other environmental improvements into the airport’s
Airport requested to stay closed at night, encourage quieter aircraft and optimise arrivals and departures so noise is minimised.
Peter Barclay, Chairman of GACC says “Communities around Gatwick and under flight paths have seen significant noise and air pollution benefits over recent months. Many people value these greatly and want to see them retained. In short, we would like the airport to build back better, starting immediately.”
GACC recognises that some much-needed improvements in the airport’s noise and environmental performance will take time and investment. However, it believes there are a number of actions Gatwick and its airline customers should take now to help ensure that the impact of renewing flights is minimised in the short term.
It has therefore written to the airport asking it to:
- Keep the airport closed at night and so avoid flights that have the greatest community and health impacts
- Request airlines to prioritise flying the quietest aircraft in their fleets
- Put in place incentives that encourage airlines permanently to retire older, noisier and more polluting aircraft
- Work with air traffic control to disperse aircraft, achieve higher, quicker, departures and adopt noise-minimising arrival procedures to the maximum extent possible, recognising that airspace will be far less congested.
Peter Barclay is Chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign.
- GACC’s aims are to protect and improve the environment in the vicinity of Gatwick Airport and to diminish any wider environmental impact of its operations, with particular regard to noise, congestion, air quality, light pollution and climate change.
Gatwick has been urged to drop expansion plans by GACC campaigners due to the Covid pandemic
There are almost no flights at Gatwick, nor have there been for weeks, due to the Covid pandemic lockdown. When flights will resume is not known, but even aviation optimists think it could take 3-4 years (or more) for air travel demand to again reach the level in 2019 – if it ever does. However, the airport says it is still going ahead ahead with plans to bring its current emergency runway into use as a full runway. But local campaign, GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has written to Gatwick’s CEO, Stewart Wingate, asking the airport to drop its expansion plans, arguing not only that there is no credible demand case, but it would be incompatible with national and local environmental goals. Peter Barclay, GACC chairman, said the group sympathised with employees and others whose jobs had been affected, but believes there is no credible case for expansion at Gatwick. It is also undesirable that the planning process would absorb council and other resources that should be focused on supporting people and businesses impacted by the pandemic. GACC says the plans for the emergency runway should be withdrawn.
CAA says Gatwick proposal for a 2nd runway would not need airspace change, for the 50,000 extra flights on a 2nd runway
Gatwick airport has said will push ahead with plans for a 2nd runway after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ruled that the plan for another runway will not require changes to the airspace around Gatwick. That had potentially threatened to pose a significant barrier. The CAA (paid for by the airlines) that is the regulator for the airlines, said that there would be no change to the design of flight paths in or out of Gatwick as a direct result of the new runway, adding: “The environmental impact relating to this proposal is assessed as nil.” (sic) [Presumably they are ignoring the carbon emissions which will not, of course, be nil]. Gatwick wants to have an extra 50,000 annual flights (up from around 285,000 now) by using its existing emergency runway as a full runway, part of the time. The airspace consent by the CAA effectively allows Gatwick to push ahead with a DCO (Development Consent Order), which is needed for the development, Currently the airport has been hit very hard by the Covid pandemic, with flights down by over 98% compared to last year, airlines facing almost no air travel demand, saying they may leave Gatwick, for Heathrow.