Gatwick Airport news July to December 2014
Gatwick flight paths comment deadline to CAA by 5th Jan 2015 on PIR (Post Implementation Review)
Gatwick airport carried out a consultation on changes to its airspace at the end of 2013, finishing in January 2014. They then carried out another consultation in May 2014. Gatwick is required to allow time for people to comment and give their feedback on the impacts of proposed airspace changes. This is called a PIR (Post Implementation Review). The deadline is 5th January 2015. After that date, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) will review the comments – and the degree to which changes to flight paths have affected the public being overflown. The airspace changes are due to PRNAV (precision navigation) and PBN (performance based navigation) – meaning aircraft fly much more accurate routes than was possible before, and routes are also concentrated to be more narrow than before. People who have been adversely affected by flight path changes from aircraft using Gatwick are recommended to send in their comments again. (The CAA has not confirmed that they would consider earlier emails or letters). There is no specific consultation document or form to fill in. The address to email is mark.swan.GatwickPIR@caa.co.uk People need to not only write to the CAA, but copy this to their MP and to the DfT.
Residents from Plane Wrong submit a petition to the CAA, opposing Gatwick flight path changes
A petition signed by more than 2,000 Mole Valley residents has been delivered to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) by members of the PlaneWrong campaign group. The petition was presented on Monday 22nd December, along with a submission opposing the recent flight path changes implemented by Gatwick Airport last year, which campaigners claim was carried out without direct consultation with those affected by noise pollution. PlaneWrong was formed in September by a group of Mole Valley residents to campaign against the permanent flight path changes to the areas south and east of Dorking, which were previously unaffected by aircraft noise. A spokesman for the group said: “By organising public meetings, door-to-door leaflet distribution, a full social media campaign and engaging with local media, PlaneWrong has united communities, including villages from Coldharbour to South Nutfield, and the towns of Dorking, Reigate and Redhill. PlaneWrong presented its powerful 44-page submission for inclusion in the CAA’s Post Implementation Review (PIR) process. The objective of the PIR is to assess whether Gatwick implemented the change correctly.
Letter: “Quality of life will be destroyed” if Gatwick is allowed to build a 2nd runway
A letter in the local West Sussex press, in the lady’s own heart-felt words, expresses far better than any number of lengthy consultant reports, the impact of a 2nd Gatwick runway on people. She says: “We live in the village of Warnham and recently suffered the six month trial of the new proposed flight path – it was horrendous. It was unbearable being woken every morning before 6am with the continuous drones of these low flying aircraft. We did not move to a small village to be made to suffer this life changing nuisance. We have now received a letter from the CEO of Gatwick Airport which was a grovelling explanation of why Gatwick needs this extra runway and what advantages it will offer, also offering compensation in the way of money off council tax fees for the worst affected! How insulting is this! As if any amount of money could compensate for the misery caused by the noise of the aircraft. The impact on our health was huge, my husband was recovering from a double heart bypass and I have had several years of illness. What we need is for our lives to NOT be destroyed by this proposal, and make no mistake, it will destroy our quality of life and our mental health.”
Stewart Wingate and senior Gatwick staff refuse to appear before group of local area MPs in Parliament
Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley, has complained that Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) has refused to appear publicly before MPs at the House of Commons to answer questions on their 2nd runway proposal. The Chairman of the “Gatwick Coordination Group”, Crispin Blunt MP, invited Stewart Wingate, and Gatwick senior management to appear before the group in a Select Committee-style hearing in January 2015. But GAL has declined the invitation, saying GAL directors “do not think that a further public meeting is necessary”. Commenting on GAL’s decision, Sir Paul said “The MPs on the Gatwick Coordination Group collectively represent over half a million people whose lives stands to be affected by the airport’s expansion. …. Gatwick have failed to answer key points on the resilience of their surface access plan. If a second runway was to be built at Gatwick access both to and from the airport would become extraordinarily difficult. …. Gatwick’s refusal to participate in an extended public scrutiny ….is an abdication of their responsibility as a corporate citizen in both Surrey and Mole Valley. However, given GAL’s inability to answer key questions on “show stopping” issues it is perhaps unsurprising they do not welcome further scrutiny.”
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.”
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.”
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.
Complaint to Airports Commission that ££ multi-million Gatwick & Heathrow ads & PR blitz is ‘subverting democracy’
Campaigners against a new runway at Heathrow r Gatwick, have attacked the multi-million ££ advertising and PR campaigns being mounted by both airports for their expansion plans. They say this huge expenditure is “subverting democracy” and drowning out discussion of alternatives – and the basic question of whether a runway should be built at all. A coalition of environmentalists and senior MPs has written to Sir Howard Davies, the head of the Airports Commission, to say the two airports are exerting “unfair influence” because of their marketing power and huge budgets for advertising and PR. There has been a blitz of large adverts in the national press and billboards or posters in prominent places, including Westminster Tube station and also close to the offices of Airports Commission. Heathrow has placed billboards as far afield as Newcastle and Manchester. One media buying agency told The Independent that the cost of both campaigns was likely to have exceeded £7m. Heathrow has also funded an astroturfing campaign called “Back Heathrow”, and repeatedly refused to say how much it has spent – and continues to spend – on this.
New Moody’s report shows Gatwick vulnerable to either its own, or a Heathrow, runway
The credit ratings agency Moody’s, have produced a new report entitled “New runway will have mixed credit implications for London’s airports”. This indicates that Gatwick would take the biggest hit if a new runway was built in London, while Heathrow stands to gain the most from a new runway. Moody’s has concluded that a new runway either at Gatwick or at Heathrow would be bad for Gatwick. With its own new runway, Gatwick would be forced to levy higher airport charges, in order to pay for it.. Adding a runway at Heathrow would also result in increasing competition for Gatwick, because it would be at risk of losing scheduled airline traffic to Heathrow, where carriers can typically earn more per passenger mile. The Moody’s analyst commented: “A runway at Heathrow would allow the airport to benefit from growth in future traffic volumes, and a new runway at Gatwick would not take significant traffic from Heathrow.” And they say Gatwick double aeronautical charges would put it at a huge competitive disadvantage to Stansted, which is its main competitor in the low-cost airlines segment.
Gatwick “Dear neighbour” letter to all households – inviting support for runway – play “spot the omissions” with it!
Gatwick airport, as part of its PR push for its 2nd runway, has written to thousands of local households in its surrounding area, with virtually everyone for miles around getting the letter. Gatwick is hoping people will respond to the Airports Commission consultation (deadline 3rd February) to back their runway. The letter can be found here. Several residents have already expressed their anger at receiving it, and at the failure of Gatwick to take any real account of the extent of the local opposition. Gatwick does not find it convenient to take much note of the fury about aircraft noise from new flight paths, or of very real and serious concerns about the horrific impact of a new runway on a huge area of Sussex, as well as of Surrey and Kent. You may like to go through the letter, entertaining youself with trying to spot the deliberate omissions, the deliberate partial truths, and the deliberate glossings-over. It is too full of them to list in this summary. But to save time, you might prefer to see the annotated version below, setting out some of the failings and distortions of the letter.
Public invited to Gatwick drop-in session with Airports Commission 6 – 8pm on Tues 16th December in Crawley
On Tuesday 16th December, the Airports Commission will be holding its second full public discussion day on airport runway proposals, about Gatwick. The first was about Heathrow, on 3rd December. The Commission has now announced there will be a public drop-in session, available to anyone who wishes to attend, from 6 – 8pm on Tuesday 16th. There is no need to have a ticket. The Commission says the purpose of this drop in session is for Commission staff to hear first-hand from people to be affected locally. Commission staff will be available to answer questions, and help people find the information they need in order to respond to the Airports Commission runway consultation, that closes on 3rd February. The main meeting during the day is by ticket only, as capacity is limited and there has been huge demand. There are no more tickets available. However, the Commission will be publishing a full transcript on their website so those unable to attend can read what was said. But everyone is invited to attend the 6 – 8pm session at the Arora Hotel, Crawley.
NATS drops High Court action to prevent Gatwick awarding DFS its tower services
UK-based air traffic control business NATS has dropped its action in the High Court to block Gatwick from concluding a deal with German rival DFS to provide air traffic services at the airport till 2025. Gatwick will be the largest UK airport to have its immediate airspace up to 4,000 feet controlled by a a foreign provider. It was announced in July that DFS had beaten NATS to get the contract. On 2 October NATS was granted an injunction after a judge supported what the business insisted were legitimate concerns over the way the contract was awarded. NATS said Gatwick had failed to provide full information. But Gatwick has always defended its decision which followed an ‘extensive’ tender process, and that the proposal submitted by DFS was considered superior. NATS now say they have seen details of the tender process that were not previously freely available, and have therefore reached a settlement before trial. DFS will cover air traffic and approach services below 4,000 feet around the airport, currently provided by NATS from October 2015. NATS will retain operations for all air navigation services above 4,000 feet, from its base in Swanwick.
“Gatwick Obviously Not” asks all Wealden councillors if they back East Sussex County Council’s support for Gatwick runway
On 24th November, Kent County Council withdrew its backing for a 2nd Gatwick runway. At present both West Sussex and East Sussex County Councils support a new Gatwick runway. However, it is now understood that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is starting to look wobbly on this commitment. Kent withdrew support largely due to the unacceptable noise burden on a large number of its residents, and the same arguments apply for the Sussex councils. Gatwick Obviously Not (GON), representing many areas to the east of Gatwick, do not believe East Sussex District Councils support their County Council. GON has written to all 54 of the councillors in Wealdon District, that is now badly affected by over-flying, to ask their view on ESCC’s backing for Gatwick, and their view on the “unilateral stance taken by Cllr Simmons of ESCC to push through support for the 2nd runway under delegated powers” (found out by an FoI request). GON are also asking their membership to email their Wealden councillors, to ask their views on the runway issue, bearing in mind the change of heart at Kent County Council.
LETTER: Cutting air travel is essential choice – not only advocating more cycling & more use of rail
Writing in the local Sussex press, a local resident shows up the logical inconsistency of local LibDem councillor Frances Haigh backing a 2nd Gatwick runway (against the policy of her party) while backing more cycling and more use of rail. With around 35 million passengers per year, Gatwick already provides far more capacity than everyone living within a reasonable distance of the airport could possibly need per year. The extra passengers with a new runway would need to come by road or rail from long distances away, possibly passing other airports which have spare capacity, like Stansted and Luton. To travel more by bike and by rail is commendable, but the carbon emissions from flying far outweigh the savings than can be made by these more sustainable modes. The travel distances flying permits, in just a few hours, can result in the production of more CO2 per person per day than the average per car in a year. For anyone concerned about their contribution to global warming, cutting back on air travel is an obvious and essential choice.
Majority (56%) of Horley residents against 2nd Gatwick runway – only 43% in favour
Horley Town Council commissioned a survey, of over 1,000 people, and has formally opposed a 2nd Gatwick runway. Horley Town Council is required to give an official response to the Airports Commission on the runway plans, and conducted the study to help shape their view. Of the 1,096 respondents, 34% were in favour of a new runway, while 56% were against, and 10% were not sure. The most common reason residents gave against expansion was increased noise, and the next more common reason was concerns about traffic and road congestion. Reasons for the runway to be approved include “enhanced local prosperity, especially for Horley”, followed by “new jobs created, plus job security”. The 10% who were unsure wanted more details about roads, traffic and parking impact. Despite councillors’ pleas for more people between the ages of 15-25 to take part in the Horley survey, only 15 respondents did so. A full council meeting agreed to oppose a runway. But if a Gatwick runway was got Commission approval, the council would strive to get “the best possible outcome for local residents with particular regard to infrastructure”.
Airports Commission consultation shows air quality problems with new runways, but no adequate data yet
The Airports Commission consultation document is aware that air quality is a major obstacle for a new Heathrow runway. It says expanding either Gatwick or Heathrow would have a negative impact on air quality, with all proposed schemes requiring expansions to local road networks to accommodate increased road traffic. For both the Heathrow runway options the Commission says “Both local Air Quality Objectives and EU limit thresholds are at risk of exceedance at a small number of monitoring sites in the local area under this scheme. While in some cases these exceedances are also forecast to occur in the do minimum scenario, there is clearly a substantial negative impact of the scheme on air quality, unless forceful mitigation measures are implemented.” But they have not been able to complete full detailed modelling of the air quality impacts of new runways and further work is needed. This unfortunately is not in time for the consultation. The Commission intends to supplement this at a future date with “more detailed dispersion modelling”. That means models to show how wind and weather disperses pollution, and it could be questioned how much faith should be placed on sufficient wind speeds in coming years.
Croydon Council backs Gatwick second runway by signing historic agreement with airport’s chief executive
Croydon, which has put its backing firmly behind Gatwick’s bid for a second runway in a move that could bring thousands of jobs. This agreement means Croydon Council and the airport will be working together to push for the benefits a second runway could bring to the area. The expansion could bring 22,000 new airport-related jobs and 14,000 others in the south London area, many in Croydon. Mr Wingate said: “Our relationship with Croydon has started to thrive and flourish. When you look at the second runway you realise that no area is as important as Croydon. If people want to take advantage of jobs at the airport it is a good opportunity to get a job where you are 14 minutes from your workplace.” (sic) The agreement says both parties will look to see how Croydon businesses will become suppliers to Gatwick, while the airport has promised £46.5million in a scheme to provide local authorities with £5,000 per new house built to help fund local infrastructure improvements.
The airport will work with Croydon Council to support the delivery of these new homes.
“Gatwick Obviously Not” tells Stewart Wingate to come clean publicly on flight path changes
In their recent e-newsletter, the recently formed group, “Gatwick Obviously Not” (GON) representing people over flown by planes in all areas east of Gatwick, set out some complaints to Stewart Wingate. It is widely recognised that Gatwick has not been open and transparent over airspace changes and trials this past year. A key issue causing anger and outrage across areas affected by Gatwick is the claims by the airport that nothing has changed, when it is clear to many thousands of people that it has. GON is now calling upon Mrs Ellman, MP, Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee to call Gatwick in to find out what has really been happening. While Gatwick says there is no “superhighway” in the sky plan, GON repeat the statement from CAA that “We discovered that by removing the shortened approach path as aircraft turned into land, we were able to achieve a 25% reduction in the spacing variation.” This is to “maximise throughput”. Gatwick wanted to re-establish the trust of its passengers after its disastrous flooding last winter. It needs to stop being economical with the truth on flight path matters too, it is to regain any trust locally.
Kent County Council withdraws backing for Gatwick 2nd runway, due to noise burden
Kent County Council (KCC) is intending to oppose plans for a 2nd Gatwick runway, in order to protect residents in west Kent from “intolerable” aircraft noise. A council policy paper sets out the position of the council and gives details of the over-flying problem, and the level of noise which has risen to unacceptable levels. This will be discussed at a cabinet meeting next week. The recommendation states: “The Cabinet agrees that KCC opposes a 2nd runway at Gatwick Airport, opposes the increase in overflights across West Kent as a result of airspace changes, and supports a reduction in the number of night flights.” KCC Leader, Paul Carter, said a potential doubling of the noise impacts over west Kent would be intolerable. The number of night flights at Gatwick during the summer period is already three and half times as many as at Heathrow. “Expansion of night flights must not happen.“ KCC said it will call on Gatwick to put in place operational procedures to provide respite for areas experiencing continuing over-flights day and night, to spread out the noise burden.
All local MPs speak out against Gatwick 2nd runway at packed protest meeting
Five MPs were on the platform, and 3 more sent messages of support, at a mass protest meeting on Saturday 22 November organised by the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC). All of the 8 MPs from around Gatwick attended or sent messages. This helps disprove the assumption in some national newspapers that Gatwick would politically be the easiest option for a new runway. The MPs were united in expressing their concern about new flight paths and about the threat of a 2nd runway. Extracts from their speeches and messages are copied here. Up to 1,000 people crammed into the meeting in Crawley, and were welcomed by 3 racy air hostesses, and by the Mayor of Crawley, Cllr Brenda Smith who later, speaking as the local councillor, expressed her deep-felt opposition to a new runway. Some 20 national and local environmental groups set up stands around the hall and answered questions from anxious members of the public. Questions from the floor were answered by a panel of experts from a range of organisations. The participants unanimously held up large cards saying NO when asked if they were in favour of new flight paths, and held up the NO cards again when asked if they were in favour of a 2nd runway.
Standing room only at huge Gatwick protest meeting – definite “NO” to new flight paths or 2nd runway
GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) organised a protest meeting on 22nd November in north Crawley. It was standing room only, with a huge gynmasium with space for up to 1,000 packed. People had come from areas near Gatwick, and up to 25 miles away – to express their intense opposition both to the flight path changes that Gatwick has recently inflicted on them, and to plans for a 2nd runway. The atmosphere at the meeting was up-beat, positive, angry and determined that Gatwick will not ruin their areas and their homes, or reduce their quality of life. Five MPs addressed the meeting (Nicholas Soames, Crispin Blunt, Henry Smith, Charles Hendry and Paul Beresford) with message of support read out from Francis Maude and Sir John Stanley, neither of whom could attend. The meeting was chaired by Helyn Clack (Surrey County Council), and addressed by the Mayor of Crawley, Brenda Smith. Asked by GACC whether people backed a new runway, or backed new flight paths, the response was a loud, unanimous “NO”. The meeting ended with cheerful singing of a new song – “What Shall We Do With Gatwick Airport?” (to the tune of the similar “Drunken Sailor.”
Gatwick’s main airline, easyJet, questions Gatwick case for 2nd runway and does not want to pay higher landing charges
Carolyn McCall, CEO of EasyJet, the largest airline at Gatwick, has said passengers want expansion at Heathrow, not at Gatwick. Ms McCall said easyJet is “quite concerned” at the prospect that Gatwick’s landing charges would rise to pay for a 2nd runway. They are having confidential talks with the airports on future charges. EasyJet makes on average £8 profit per seat. If Gatwick’s charges doubled from the current £9 to an average of £15 to £18 (or even up to £23) as predicted by the Airports Commission, this would hit EasyJet’s economics. Ms McCAll said: “This whole issue of capacity should be about where the demand is. Airlines have to want to go into that airport, and the congestion we have is predominantly around the Heathrow hub. Passengers need to really value what this infrastructure brings, and if they don’t see any benefit it’s going to struggle.” A new runway risked emulating unpopular toll roads. “It will be years and years before [passengers] see any positive effect.” As one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing airlines, EasyJet’s opinion will need to be given careful consideration by the Commission.
Gatwick 2nd runway planes would be just 400 yards from Ifield village homes – blighting lives
Villagers in Ifield, the place most at risk if Gatwick was allowed to build a 2nd runway, have vowed to keep fighting. If the runway was built, their lives would be blighted by planes taking off a few hundred yards from their properties. They are already so close to the existing runway that their windows shake when planes take of. Ifield is the most northern part of Crawley. The Airports Commission has now released the papers for its consultation on Gatwick and Heathrow runway plans. The outlook for the Gatwick area would be grim, with up to 18,400 new homes needed up to 2030; (West Sussex and the Gatwick Diamond estimated 30 – 45,000 homes), devastation of countryside, hugely increased noise, more flight paths, and huge pressure on transport and social infrastructure. Campaigners say“one runway is enough” to enable Gatwick’s growth until 2040. Recent public meetings have shown almost blanket opposition to expansion. Expanding Gatwick makes little practical, or economic, sense with airports like Stansted at about half capacity.
Comment: “How we’ve been conned into believing the UK has an airport crisis”
Great blog by Adam Bienkov, on Politics.co.uk, saying “One of the greatest confidence tricks ever pulled was to convince the public that there is an airport capacity crisis in the UK.” He wonders how this has been achieved. He says if you look at the figures, it’s clear that we are not even close to having an aviation capacity crisis in the UK. Of the ten busiest airports in the country, just one (Heathrow) is technically full. The rest are massively underused. In 2012, Stansted had 47% of all its runway slots left empty; Luton airport had 51% unused; Gatwick about 12% below capacity. The aviation lobby itself (and the Airports Commission) admits there is no current shortage of runways in the UK, it just may happen in the future. A majority of Heathrow passengers are on short-haul leisure flights, but there are many other airports near London that they could use instead. “There are already more than enough runways in the UK to get every British citizen wherever in the world they would like to go. What we don’t have is the public transport network required to get them to those airports quickly and easily.”
Airports Commission estimates new homes needed for new runway – 18,400 at Gatwick; 70,800 at Heathrow (maybe more)
The Airports Commission estimates that a 3rd Heathrow runway could require up to 70,800 homes to be built locally to support the additional jobs created by the development. The Commission estimates a Gatwick 2nd runway could require up to 18,400 homes to be delivered across 14 local authorities, and it said this could be done up to 2030, with “land availability unlikely to be affected by green belt issues”. (Estimate of 30,000 – 45,000 homes by W Sussex County Council + Gatwick Diamond). More houses would be needed for Heathrow expansion than Gatwick expansion, due to more additional business activity following a runway at Heathrow than at Gatwick, and more from the airport’s north-west runway plan (up to 70,800), than the Heathrow Hub idea of extending the northern runway (up to 60,600). The Commission acknowledges that these upper limits may present challenges for local authorities, outlining that “many… already struggle to meet housing targets”. The only relief would be that the homes could be delivered over a number of years, and the pain would be shared between many authorities. However, Green Belt would be seriously threatened – not to mention urban cramming and loss of village character.
Heathrow runway schemes to cost £3-4 bn more than forecast – benefits over 60 years hard to assess
The Airports Commission figures in their consultation documents show costs of building a runway would actually be considerably higher than any of the 3 scheme proposers have estimated. The Commission anticipates a Gatwick runway would cost £9.3 billion, not £7.4 billion the airport claims. The cost of the Heathrow Hub project (extending the northern runway westwards) would be more like £13.5 billion, not £10.1 billion. The cost of Heathrow’s north west runway scheme, destroying Harmondsworth, would be more like £18.6 billion, not Heathrow’s estimate of £14.8 billion (excluding £800m of surface access costs). Those sums would be for runway construction, new terminal and “all other required airport facilities.” The Commission says the higher cost estimates are due to “optimism bias and differing construction profiles.” The possible economic benefits depend on which of 5 scenarios is considered. This could be from £42-127 billion for Gatwick, from £101-214 billion for Heathrow Hub, and from £112-211 for a Heathrow north west runway,depending on the scenario (over 60 years starting in 2026).
Airports Commission consultation launched – on its assessments of Heathrow and Gatwick runway plans
The Commission launched its consultation on the runway hopes of Heathrow (the airport’s north west runway scheme, and the Heathrow Hub extension of the northern runway), and Gatwick. The consultation runs till 3rd February. Apart from one main consultation document, there is a main document on Heathrow, Heathrow Hub and Gatwick. There are also over 50 technical documents giving more detail. A great deal to read through and take in. Sir Howard Davies’ introduction says: ” It is particularly important for local residents and their representatives to understand more clearly what the proposals entail, and what their consequences might be for the local environment.” The Commission wants to know if people have any comments on how it has carried out its appraisals, including methodology, and if are there any relevant factors that have not been fully addressed by the Commission to date. It is also interested in evidence and ideas about how any or all of the short-listed options might be improved, or ideas for mitigation measures to address specific impacts.
Manchester Airports boss deeply critical of likelihood of large public subsidy aiding Heathrow or Gatwick runway
The CEO of Manchester Airports group, Charlie Cornish, has protested about the likelihood of public funds being used to assist a new south east runway. He says: “Given the private interests at stake, adopting a special set of rules that favours the delivery of new capacity over the use of existing capacity, will have profound adverse consequences for competition and consumers in the long-run.” More public funds for London airports does not help regional airports. The Commission, in its consultation documents on Heathrow and Gatwick runway plans, does not give specific figures on anticipated public subsidy. But it comments there “may be a case” for some funding by the public sector. Equally, if the airport benefits from surface transport paid for by the taxpayer “may mean that a contribution from the scheme promoter to these costs is justified.” State aid rules may also require an airport operator to make an appropriate payment, if it benefits from a surface access scheme. “The Government would need to reach its own view on the level of public investment that can be justified.”
Airports Commission assesses Gatwick’s runway would cost about £2 billion more, needing high landing charges
The Airports Commission’s consultation on their short-listed runway options contains a lot on the economics. While Gatwick airport has said their runway would cost the taxpayer nothing, and only cost about £7.4 billion, the Commission puts the cost higher. They estimate the work for the 2nd runway, with a 3rd terminal and all associated infrastructure, would cost up to £9.3 billion. The Commission’s higher figure reflects “in large part differing views of optimism bias and differing construction profiles.” Gatwick already has current debt of about. £1.5 billion made up of Class A bonds. It also has £300 million of revolving credit facilities. The Commission estimates Gatwick would need to raise additional equity of up to about. £3.7 billion and additional debt of up to about. £14.3 billion. “This level of finance is not unprecedented for infrastructure projects and airports. It is, however, significantly larger than the company’s financing to date and may be challenging.” Gatwick would also have to substantially raise its landing charges from £9 per passenger to up to £15-18 or up to £23. Like expensive Heathrow.
Initial comments from GACC on the Airports Commission consultation documents
The Airports Commission has released its consultation. There is a “Business Case and Sustainability Assessment” for Gatwick (137 pages), and there are also some 50 long technical documents. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) will study all these carefully in due course, but at first sight the documents confirm that a new runway would make Gatwick bigger (more passengers) than Heathrow today. That would be an environmental calamity. The consultation paper shows 30,000 people affected by noise from Gatwick, compared to 10,000 today (54 leq). And 560,000 aircraft a year compared to 250,000 at present. This would mean urbanisation of large chunks of Sussex; new flight paths over many towns and villages across the area, loss of tranquillity to AONB areas, gridlock on roads, and a worsening of the north-south divide. The Commission reckons that Gatwick landing charges would need to rise from £9 to £19, or £23 at peak – more than at Heathrow today. Would such a runway be used, especially with others like Stansted, Luton and Birmingham under capacity?
Gatwick gets a study done, showing (surprise!) that another Heathrow runway would be very noisy … so would another one at Gatwick
Gatwick has produced yet another study, which it hopes enhances the chances of its runway bid. This one takes a look at the amount of noise that a 3rd Heathrow runway would – undeniably – bring. Gatwick hopes to show that far more people would be affected by a Heathrow runway than by a Gatwick runway, which is true if just the number of homes over-flown is considered. The study somewhat backfires on Gatwick, as it shows clearly just how much noise and environmental damage is done by an airport with two runways (which is what Gatwick is lobbying for). Having found, from their own consultation locally there is very little support for a new runway, Gatwick has taken to getting surveys done of Londoners, who (surprise, surprise) would prefer not to have yet more noise misery from Heathrow. Gatwick appears to completely ignore the very real issue that aircraft noise, in rural or semi-rural areas with low ambient noise, needs to be considered differently.There are separate noise standards for rural places, with noise being regarded as intrusive about 10dB lower. This is predictably just a very self-serving study, ignoring any inconvenient facts for Gatwick
Open letter to the people of Wandsworth, from the people of Gatwick – “Not in My Backyard” (NIMBY) should be borough motto
Wandsworth Borough Council recently voted unanimously in favour of backing a 2nd Gatwick runway, and opposing a runway at Heathrow. In this blatant nimbyism, the Council has shown no regard for the well-being of the people living near Gatwick – in attempting to pass on the noise (and other) misery that a new runway would bring anywhere. An open letter from the people of Gatwick to the people of Wandsworth – not mincing its words – sets out why the Council decision is irresponsible. Wandsworth will soon be holding a public meeting, to be addressed by Gatwick senior management – who will be pushing their runway plans. But the Gatwick staff have not bothered to find time to speak to local Gatwick residents, refusing to attend half a dozen meetings recently. The letter says: “Wandsworth, NIMBY capital of Europe. Nowhere else in Europe do the citizens vote unanimously to bring misery to their neighbours. “Not in My Backyard” should be inscribed as your Borough motto.” And it concludes: “But, sorry, we forgot: your council has no concern for the next generation. So long as you don’t get any more aircraft over Putney the next generation can get stuffed.”
Divisions at top of Tory party over 3rd Heathrow runway as Hammond, Johnson and others won’t accept it
The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (MP for Runnymede & Weybridge), and the London mayor, Boris Johnson, will refuse to support their own party’s policy on airport expansion at the next election, potentially opening a rift at the top of the Conservative party. They are among a batch of Tories of cabinet or equivalent rank who are expected to rebel against the official party line, which is that no decision on a new runway would be taken before the Airports Commission gives its recommendation in summer 2015. Boris continues to push for an estuary airport. Other leading Tories with south-eastern constituencies who have spoken out against a 3rd Heathrow runway include the Home Secretary, Theresa May (MP for Maidenhead); the international development secretary, Justine Greening (MP for Putney); and the Northern Ireland secretary, Theresa Villiers (MP for Chipping Barnet). The pressure for a new south east runway has come from George Osborne. Gatwick becomes more vulnerable, the more senior Tories oppose a Heathrow runway, though a Gatwick runway makes little economic or aviation sense.
Willie Walsh says there is no business case for a 2nd Gatwick runway – BA has Gatwick’s 2nd largest number of passengers
Willie Walsh, the head of IAG, will not support a 2nd Gatwick runway, even if it is chosen by the Airports Commission or backed by the next government. He does not believe there is a business case to support its expansion, and there is insufficient demand from airlines for extra capacity at Gatwick. Mr Walsh campaigned heavily for a 3rd Heathrow runway before 2010, but has made frequent comments indicating he does not believe UK politicians will have the “courage” to build that. Willie Walsh says British Airways would resist higher landing charges, which would be necessary to fund a runway – either at Heathrow or Gatwick. (EasyJet has also said in the past they don’t want a new runway, if it means substantially higher charges – their model is low cost). BA would want lower costs, not higher costs, from a new runway. IAG’s shares have now risen as it has now made a profit at last, and will be paying its first dividend (and maybe some UK tax). Gatwick’s main airline is EasyJet with around 37% of passengers, and British Airways 2nd largest at around 14%.
CAA 2013 Air Passenger Survey shows only 23% UK air passengers on business (30% at Heathrow, 14% at Gatwick)
The CAA has now released the data from its 2013 Air Passenger Survey. The survey asked 230,000 departing travellers at 13 of the main UK airports to fill in their surveys. The CAA carries out the annual survey (since 1968) to improve its understanding of the people who use the UK’s airports. This year the airports were: Aberdeen; Birmingham; East Midlands; Edinburgh; Gatwick; Glasgow; Heathrow; Inverness; London City; Luton; Manchester; Newcastle and Stansted. They found that • London City has the highest proportion of passengers travelling for business (55%), with the next highest being Heathrow (30%). • Airports with the highest proportion of leisure passengers were East Midlands (92%), followed by Gatwick and Luton (both 87%). • Heathrow had the highest proportion (37%) of connecting passengers, the same proportion as 2012, Gatwick had 9%. Though the aviation industry PR implies that air travel is vital for links to emerging economies for business, the reality is that only about 23% of air journeys in the UK are for business; about 30% business at Heathrow, and only about 14% at Gatwick (declining).
Hundreds of villagers from Brockham, Betchworth, Beare Green etc protest over Gatwick flightpath changes
Hundreds of people packed into Beare Green Village Hall to protest against the recent flightpath changes out of Gatwick. The meeting was organised by, and chaired by the recently formed action group “Plane Wrong” which has been set up by people in Beare Green, Betchworth, Brockham, Capel, Coldharbour, the Holmwoods and Dorking, who have all been affected by increased aircraft noise nuisance. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved the flightpath changes in August last year following a much-criticised consultation by Gatwick,which was far too complex and badly written for non-experts to understand. Plane Wrong will be educating communities about what they can do to stand up to the flight path threats, and getting more and more people involved in the fight. Plane Wrong has an online petition to the CAA. People are now increasingly aware of the threat of a 2nd runway. Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford told the meeting: “If you think this is a problem now, wait and see if we get a second runway. We have an enormous battle on our hands .”
LETTER in West Sussex Gazette: Politicians are not listening to voters on Gatwick 2nd runway threat
In July 2013, West Sussex County Council, in a rushed and questionably democratic vote, gave its support for a 2nd runway at Gatwick. This is despite having commissioned a study in 2013 that showed somewhere between 30,000 and 45,000 new houses would need to be built in the area, and other serious local problems. The Chair of CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions), writing in the local press, has emphasised how the opinions of the thousands who have been alerted to the new runway threat, need to be taken account of by local politicians and councillors. Horsham Council is Conservative controlled, with 7 Lib Dem councillors. However, the leader of the Horsham LibDems, Frances Haigh, has backed a 2nd Gatwick runway, even though that was voted against at the recent party conference. There are very real fears about implications of a 2nd runway, on housing, transport, pressure on all social services and infrastructure – and councillors would do well to take account of these views, with some district elections next year.
MPs in areas affected by Gatwick say its expansion is a ‘disaster waiting to happen’
Crispin Blunt and other local MPs in the areas around Gatwick have written to Stewart Wingate to tell him that his runway proposals are a “pipe dream. ” The MPs say Gatwick’s runway application is “a developmental disaster waiting to happen”, and local communities are not large enough to support the planned expansion. They warn that planned upgrades to transport links, to deal with the current crowding, will not be sufficient for a possible trebling of current passenger numbers. Adding a runway will result in gridlocked traffic on the M23 and train problems, as more air passengers want to travel with large luggage items. Gatwick claims it can meet local air quality targets, which Heathrow cannot, but if Gatwick grows to approach the size Heathrow is now, it will have the same air quality problems. The MPs say: “The sooner this damaging pipe dream is abandoned, the better for its neighbours.” Also that there is very low local unemployment, and already a “desperate” shortage of housing. “Gatwick’s blithe assumption that the additional housing need would be met by local authorities’ existing development plans is wholly incredible”.
Classic council nimbyism: Wandsworth Council backs Gatwick expansion – anything to avoid more Heathrow noise misery
Wandsworth Council has been a vociferous opponent of expansion at Heathrow, because its residents are badly affected by Heathrow aircraft noise. But now a motion has been voted on – unanimously – by the full Wandsworth Council, backing a new runway at Gatwick. This is a stunning example of Council nimbyism, and irresponsible self interest. Gatwick has spent a lot of money in lobbying west London councils, and this has paid off in Wandsworth. The Council rightly praises itself on its battle against Heathrow, expansion which “would deliver a devastating blow to hundreds of thousands of Londoners whose lives would be blighted by noise and pollution.” They appear not to appreciate that they are advocating inflicting the same misery on other people, in Sussex, Surrey and Kent. Wandsworth even hopes Gatwick expansion will benefit them financially. Their view is based on the opinions of their unfortunate residents, who suffer significantly from Heathrow, but Wandsworth also unquestioningly backs the myth of airport expansion in the south east being “badly needed.” You can email them your views: firstname.lastname@example.org
New action group, Plane Wrong, fights Gatwick flight path changes north of the airport
A new local action group, “Plane Wrong”, opposing changes of Gatwick flight paths, and the sudden increase in plane noise for some areas, has been formed. Changes to a flight path, heading west and north of Gatwick are affecting – and causing annoyance and distress to – thousands of people across parts of Surrey. The flight path is now making a wider turn. Plane Wrong has been established by people in Beare Green, Betchworth, Blackbrook, Brockham, Capel, Coldharbour, the Holmwoods, Leigh, Leith Hill, Redhill and Reigate. The group argues that there have been insufficient trials and consultations about the changes. The increased noise is damaging the environment, especially the AONB surrounding Leith Hill. Plane Wrong has organised two public meetings, on 22nd and 23rd October, to which the CAA was invited to explain its flight path changes. Plane Wrong has a petition to the CAA, asking it to stop the new route. Plane Wrong say that “If this flight path is not reversed, it sets a precedent for airspace changes to be made without proper consideration for the impact it has on the local surrounding areas and population.”
Margaret Hodge: Gatwick runway appeal ‘is hypocritical when it avoids corporation tax’
Gatwick has been accused of “hypocrisy” for avoiding corporation tax while campaigning to build a new runway, allegedly for the benefit of the UK economy. Margaret Hodge, head of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, said the airport should pay its “fair share” if it wants its runway campaign to be credible. She also criticised Heathrow which has not paid corporation tax for several years. But she particularly criticised Gatwick. Its Guernsey-based parent company Ivy Mid Co LP has invested in a £437 million “Eurobond” which charges the airport 12% interest, thus avoiding tax. Gatwick says this sort of bond is often used by other infrastructure companies. Companies in the UK should pay 21% corporation tax on profits, but by spending £1 billion on upgrading the airport, Gatwick has made no profit recently. Despite pre-tax loses in recent years, it has paid dividends to its overseas shareholders of £436 million. Heathrow has also avoided profits by investing in new buildings etc. Mrs Hodge said the companies “made a fortune” from their UK activities, which relied on public services, adding: “For them to pretend they are only in it for the benefit of the UK economy is a touch hypocritical.”
LibDems vote against new runways in south east, keeping existing policy. NO to new Gatwick runway.
The LibDem conference has voted against an amendment, by Lorely Burt (Solihull) and Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay), to reverse Lib Dem policy of no new net runways. Party policy remains opposed to a new SE runway. The amendment proposed continuing opposition to Heathrow, but backing Gatwick expansion (Gatwick helped with conference expenses – and lobbied relentlessly). It was supported by Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Susan Kramer. However, no cabinet minister spoke in favour of it during the debate. Ed Davey and others made rather poorly informed comments about aviation becoming “cleaner and quieter” in future, meaning a new runway could be built without breaching environmental limits. “According to one party source, Clegg was also worried about going through an election campaign saying the Lib Dems would block a new runway, only for it to be agreed by parliament soon after the election.” LibDems will not back a new runway if in coalition after 2015. Julian Huppert played a central role in defeating the amendment. Caroline Pidgeon spoke strongly against it, and tweeted that “softening on airports is bad for environment, for London and for the LibDems‘ credibility.” What this does to voters’ faith in LibDems not selling out to big business, at the expense of the environment, in future is not clear.
Vince Cable: Gatwick runway is “a preferable alternative” and “less problematic” than Heathrow runway
Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, is reported as saying, at the LIb Dem party conference, that he backs the expansion of Gatwick over Heathrow. His speech on Monday did not mention airports, but he is reported by the BBC as saying expansion at Gatwick was “a preferable alternative” and “less problematic” than a third runway at Heathrow. His constituency of Twickenham is close to Heathrow, and badly overflown. So it unsurprising that he has previously voiced his opposition to a new Heathrow runway. In December 2013 Mr Cable said: “The Davies Commission interim report has put Heathrow at the front of its thinking which is questionable economically, damaging environmentally and probably undeliverable politically…. I fully support the need to improve UK business links with airports in the emerging markets of Asia which is important for jobs, but this could be achieved more quickly by reforming and reallocating airport slots; by building up point to point services; and by strengthening the capacity of UK regional airports.” He wants the UK economy to be “knowledge based, outward looking, and green.”
Lib Dems hoping to get more votes by dropping opposition to Gatwick runway
The Liberal Democrats voted at the 2012 conference, exactly two years ago, against any new runway at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted or the Thames estuary. But just a short time later, they have apparently abandoned their environmental principles, and decided to change policy, in the hope of saving some of their declining vote. Their pre-manifesto put out only on 9th September, reiterated the No New Runways message, though by June there were indications that they were wavering. Not there will be an amendment at the conference for a change to this policy, and for the Lib Dems to only oppose a runway at Heathrow. They are thus effectively discussing backing a Gatwick runway. Looking at the map showing location of Lib Dem constituencies, this is quite a cynical move. It seems the party has been led to believe that planes will become substantially “quieter” and “cleaner” and so a new runway would be environmentally acceptable. The problem is that there are no step changes in either aircraft carbon emissions or noise expected for decades. There will be a debate at the Lib Dem conference on Tuesday, and the industry will be there in force, lobbying hard.
Gatwick admits defeat and is postponing new flight paths in the face of vocal opposition
Gatwick is postponing the planned introduction of new flight paths, as a result of massive opposition. A proposed new departure flight path to the west, outlined in a recent consultation, has been postponed. This will set an important precedent for similar new flight paths proposed at Heathrow and at Birmingham. A new procedure for arriving aircraft – the point-merge system – proposed by NATS has also been postponed, in the face of widespread concern expressed across East and West Sussex, and Kent. A new flight path recently introduced over Beare Green, Holmwood, Reigate and Redhill is currently under review by the CAA. But other new concentrated departure tracks – which have resulted in a wave of agonised complaints, and vocal new anti-noise groups, up to 20 miles around the airport – remain in position. Brendon Sewill, chairman of the GACC Gatwick’s Big Enough campaign, wants not only a postponement, but all new routes cancelled. It is thought that Gatwick may have ordered the postponement as they realise the protests were undermining their case for a new runway. A new runway, with twice as many aircraft as now, would be far worse than the present situation. Determined opposition will continue, for as long as it takes.
GACC assesses Gatwick’s economic claims, and find them to be flimsy, at best
In May 2014 Gatwick submitted to the Airports Commission their case for building a new runway, but this document has not been published. In July Gatwick published a document “Connecting Britain to the Future. Faster” which was said to be a summary of their case. On examination, however, it appears to be a collection of assertions chosen for their publicity value but with virtually no supporting evidence. That is particularly true for the claims that a new runway would create substantial economic benefits. GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has assessed the claims made. Many are shaky, at best. On the issue of the alleged benefit to the wider UK economy of £28 billion, from more trade, inward investment and inbound tourism, GACC points out that it is illogical to count the benefits of inbound tourism but not the cost of outbound. Official forecasts show that Gatwick in 2050 will handle around three outbound tourists for every one inbound. The main effect of building a new runway would be a net increase in tourist expenditure abroad, thus having a negative effect, not a positive benefit, for the UK economy. GACC: “If Gatwick Airport Ltd were using this document as a basis for a contract they could be sued for misrepresentation.”
GACC confirms that Gatwick’s Noise Action Plan is just a regurgitation of the old one, barely changed
The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, (GACC) has checked through the Noise Action Plan that the airport has put out, as a revised plan. The prospect of a better plan may have raised the hopes of thousands of people affected by aircraft noise that there would be some significant changes,. But those hopes have been quickly dashed. The plan is little more than the Noise Action Plan which was published in November 2013 and, after a rushed consultation, submitted to the Government in February 2014. It is still dated Nov 2013. A significant failing of the Plan is that it was submitted to the Government before the introduction of new concentrated departure routes and before the recent consultations on departure and arrival routes, so there are now many more people with an interest than when it was written. Many of the promised actions have already taken place – and people find them disappointing. The promised “respite” has not yet materialised. Contrary to what is said in the Noise Action Plan, Gatwick is encouraging airlines to fly more night flights. And so on.
Gatwick airport makes a few cosmetic changes to its Noise Action Plan – not actually reducing noise
Gatwick airport has added a few, small changes to the Noise Action Plan that it wrote in November 2013. The airport says this is in response to comments they received to their airspace consultation from Oct 2013 to Jan 2014. The few changes will do very little to actually reduce noise. Logically, that will not be possible, with ever increasing numbers of flights. However, the changes include: “Explore whether ‘rotating respite’ can be provided to communities most affected by noise from aircraft;” increasing CDA landings (already doing that); more consultation with residents (in the vain hope this deflects opposition); “commission noise studies to gain an insight into the noise climate” (ongoing); Request that the DfT explores ways to describe and measure aircraft noise more clearly to help people understand noise impacts;” “Gatwick Airport Ltd will write to the DfT requesting research be undertaken to fully understand the effects of aircraft ion human health;” (by 2018) and “Commission public studies on noise impacts on particular areas.” So not a lot of action by Gatwick itself. Or any action at all really. A bit more PR – requiring careful reading of the small print.
Protesters line route of Tour of Britain to campaign against Gatwick flight paths
Local campaign group, Communities Against Noise and Emissions (CAGNE), which is helping residents oppose increased aircraft noise from Gatwick, lined part of the route of the Tour of Britain last week. They watched cyclists as they passed through Horsham, with banners and placards about their campaign. CAGNE chairman Sally Pavey said: “We took the opportunity of the tour to raise awareness of our campaign. We had lots of interest from people, some of which have found themselves suddenly under a trial flight path.” Though the ADNID flight path trial, which concentrated flights over areas south west of Gatwick, has now ended, the problem is still there. Having experienced the deeply unpleasant and intrusive noise nuisance of the flight path trial, people are now very concerned about the prospect of a 2nd Gatwick runway, realising the noise implications. CAGNE started in Warnham, when the trial began in April, and it has quickly attracted hundreds of members Warnham, Rusper, Kingsfold, Rowhook, Broadbridge Heath, Slinfold parishes and north Horsham. Other groups have now formed to the east of Gatwick, to oppose the new noise they are also suffering.
Gatwick’s runway plans would mean labour shortage, considerable local house building and traffic congestion
If Heathrow or Gatwick got permission to build a new runway, both would struggle to find enough workers locally. Both are in areas of high employment. Workers would have to either be drawn in from elsewhere, commuting in each day – or a lot of extra housing would have to be built to house them. Both areas already have substantial problems in providing sufficient housing, even at present. More jobs are needed outside the south east. Gatwick claims 122,000 new jobs would be created by a new runway, with 22,000 in the immediate vicinity of the airport. The airport’s labour shortage was underlined this summer when delays at baggage reclaim forced Gatwick to bus in extra staff from Southampton. Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, said the shortage was a “deal breaker” and “Gatwick are proposing an airport busier than Heathrow….which has 43,100 more people on-site today. Therefore the on-site job forecast is probably an underestimate by a factor of two. Gatwick can’t man this airport without a massive increase in local house building.” A study by independent consultants jointly commissioned by the West Sussex County Council and the Gatwick Diamond business association, in early 2013, found that 30,000 – 45,000 new houses would be needed if Gatwick got a 2nd runway.
Woodland Trust asking Gatwick respondents to send a photo of themselves, to prove to Gatwick they are real people
Gatwick carried out a consultation, that ended on 16th May) about its 2nd runway plans. There were some 7,700 responses (the vast majority against a new runway) and of those, 4,092 came through a campaign by the Woodland Trust. However, in its analysis of the consultation responses, Ipsos Mori decided to discount these responses, as they had been generated by a campaign and were sent in electronically. It is too convenient for the airport to discount over half the responses in this way. The Woodland Trust is now asking everyone who backs their campaign against Gatwick destroying areas of ancient woodland for its runway, to send in photos and details of themselves, in order to prove to the powers-that-be that they are real people, their opinions are real, and there is no reason for their consultation responses to be invalidated.You can add your photo, and a brief comment, on the Woodland Trust website here. The Trust is rightly appalled at suggestions by Gatwick that they can justify destroying ancient woodland by just offsetting it, through planting 3 new saplings to replace each ancient tree – or translocating woodland soil to new locations for new saplings. Neither even partly replace the richness, quality and diversity of true ancient woods.
Call for all affected by Gatwick noise to ask their councillors if they back a 2nd runway. If “Yes” – don’t vote for them
In a letter published in the West Sussex County Times, Sally Pavey – who is the chair of the local residents’ group CAGNE writes about the need for elected representatives to do more for people suffering from Gatwick flight paths. People who have now found themselves at risk of being under a concentrated PR NAV flight path need their elected representatives to work on their behalf. CAGNE was formed due to the flight path trial, called in the jargon, “ADNID” that took place for 6 months, ending in early August. Sally questions the democratic process that permits this insult to the quality of life of thousands of inoffensive citizens, in order that the foreign big-business owners of Gatwick can make more profit. She asks how democratic the airport is, when the only consultation done on flight path trials is through the GATCOM and NATMAG committees, at neither of which the public can speak. Sally urges local residents to “ask those that seek to represent you, ie parish councils, district councillors, West Sussex county councillors and your MP, a simple question. Do you support a second runway at Gatwick Airport? Yes or No. And if the answer is Yes, do not vote for them.”
Anger at Gatwick flight path changes causes blossoming of protest across the area
New flight paths introduced by Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) are causing a wave of protest across large parts of East and West Sussex, Kent and Surrey. MPs including Nick Herbert, Francis Maude, Paul Beresford, Crispin Blunt, John Stanley, Greg Clark, and Charles Hendry all report that they are overwhelmed with correspondence from upset constituents. New anti-noise groups, all welcomed and supported by GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign – the long established community group), have sprung up in Crowborough, Sevenoaks Weald, Tunbridge Wells, Penshurst, Chiddingstone, Beare Green, and Warnham. GAL called an emergency meeting of the airport noise committee (NATMAG) on 29th August to try to calm the situation – before it takes the shine off their extravaganza campaign for a 2nd runway. The public annoyance and anger have been caused not only by the ADNID flight path trial, but also new concentrated departure flight paths over Holmwood, Brockham and Reigate, and also over Penshurst and Tunbridge Wells. There have also been more, and lower, arrivals over parts of Kent and East Sussex – and fears there of a concentrated merge point in future.
Open letter from a resident of Bidborough to Stewart Wingate, on the increased Gatwick noise nuisance
Below is a letter from a resident in Bidborough, which has recently experienced a much greater degree of aircraft noise – from Gatwick arrivals – than it has ever done in the past. Along with thousands of others in the areas of Tunbridge Wells, Bidborough, Hever, Penshurst, Chiddingstone and many others, the writer of the letter is justifiably angry and upset about what Gatwick and NATS have changed – and particularly at being fobbed off by responses from Gatwick which deny there has been any change. The residents very genuinely believe there have been changes, that flight paths are being concentrated, and many planes are lower. AirportWatch does not endorse the letter, nor can we confirm its factual accuracy. But it is copied here, to illustrate the extent – and the determination – of the new opposition that has recently sprung up in areas to the east of Gatwick.
Open letter to Stewart Wingate, asking for explanation of the increased aircraft noise being experienced
An open letter to Stewart Wingate, the CEO of Gatwick airport, has been written by a member of one of the new opposition groups that has mushroomed in the past two months. These have emerged, as the noise from Gatwick arrivals over parts of Kent (especially around Tunbridge Wells, Hever, Penshurst and nearby areas) has increased. Due to subtle changes in concentration of flight paths, and apparently lower approaches, the lives of thousands of people have been badly affected by the noise. And these people are absolutely not prepared to lie down and accept this unwelcome, unpleasant intrusion into their lives. There is a steely determination, and unflinching resolve shared by thousands. A letter to Mr Wingate is copied below. AirportWatch does not endorse the sentiments in the letter, (at times expressed bluntly) nor do we make any claim that all the points made are accurate. It is copied here, to indicate the problems of many people in Kent and West Sussex, as they perceive them. It shows eloquently their anger, and their refusal to believe they are not being fobbed off with half truths by the airport, which insists nothing has changed.
New grouping called “Gatwick Obviously NOT” pulling together 12 local groups in Kent and West Sussex against Gatwick plans
On 27th August, under the auspices of Gatwickobviouslynot.org, twelve groups from all over Kent and Sussex got together in Penshurst to discuss the next steps in dealing with problems relating to Gatwick. Main concerns were the recent Gatwick airspace consultation, that has been dubbed “not fit for purpose ” by Greg Clark MP, the situation with new and altered flight paths, and the threat of aircraft noise becoming substantially worse if Gatwick was able to build a second runway. The meeting noted that the CEO of Gatwick, Stewart Wingate, had that same day said ‘Expansion at Gatwick is the obvious choice” and can be delivered to our country “at an environmental cost it can afford” – a statement which those attending the meeting found most perplexing and very disturbing. The meeting demonstrated very clearly the determination of people in previously quiet areas of Kent and Sussex not to allow Gatwick to destroy their peace, and their quality of life. The new groups are articulate, determined and organised – and by working together, and with the older established campaign, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Nick Herbert, MP for Arundel & South Downs, joins others in speaking out against noise nuisance from ADNID trial
Nick Herber, the MP for Arundel and South Downs, has received numerous complaints from constituents in Kirdford, Wisborough Green, West Grinstead and other villages about noise from low flying aircraft from Gatwick. This has been due to the ADNID flight path trial, that lasted 6 months and ended on 8th August. He did not get aircraft noise complaints before ADNID. Though it has now ended, Mr Herbert says some constituents say the aircraft noise still continues. He has taken up the issue with Stewart Wingate, and has also been working with Francis Maude, the MP for Horsham, whose constituents are also affected. They have raised the matter with the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin. The MPs are challenging the assertion that there needs to be any new Noise Preferential Route (NPR) in order for Gatwick to achieve a modest potential increase in hourly movements as a single runway airport. They have also complained about the consultation, which was badly done. Mr Herbert is aware of the extent of local concern not only about the new flight paths becoming permanent, but the even worse prospect of the increased traffic from a 2nd runway.
Responses to the Gatwick airspace consultation (closed 16th August)
On 23rd May Gatwick launched a consultation on airspace changes it proposes. This is part of the airspace change programme to “modernise” flight paths, in line with the UK Future Airspace Strategy published by the CAA. The consultation was widely regarded as inadequate, badly written and presented, and effectively almost impossible for ordinary people – unused to the jargon and the technicalities – to either understand or respond to. The consultation finally ended on 16th August. Many organisations, and MPs, have asked for the consultation to be considered void, due to its deficiencies, and re-done to include maps, showing all proposed flight paths at Gatwick for arrivals and departures up to 10,000 feet. These were not included before, making responses difficult. These are some of the consultation responses sent in from local councils and parishes, representing their members. They all comment negatively on the quality of the consultation. One comments: “The air travel industry appears to be in total denial of the collateral damage which would be caused by these proposals”
Mole Valley MP Sir Paul Beresford joins the battle over Gatwick aircraft noise
Sir Paul Beresfor, the MP for Mole Valley, has joined the battle against aircraft noise due to Gatwick airport, over the south of the district. Documents for the recent airspace consultation by Gatwick (closed on 15th August) show that one of Gatwick’s departure routes was changed in November 2013. This flight path had too tight a turn for modern aircraft (though they can climb faster than older planes) and planes were increasingly straying further north. As a result, the official route, the NPR (noise preferential route) was changed at the end of last year to allow for a wider turn, meaning 7,200 people who were previously unaffected are now under the flight path – including communities in Leigh, the Holmwoods, Brockham, Capel, Betchworth and Beare Green. Sir Paul said: “It’s quite a disaster. People who bought houses under the previous flight path knew what they were buying. People who have bought under the new flight path did not know. ….. the whole thing is totally unacceptable.” He is deeply opposed to a 2nd runway, partly due to the thousands of houses that would have to be built, on green field land, to accommodate workers. “They are actually bussing people in from the South Coast to do jobs” already.
Campaigners in Tunbridge Wells area gear up for legal action over flawed Gatwick consultation
Campaigners against the noise from Gatwick flight paths say that legal action will be taken against the airport’s inadequate airspace consultation. Fundraising has already begun to raise some £70,000 estimated to be needed to challenge the case in court, and residents of the areas beneath a proposed narrow corridor, including the High Weald Area of Natural Beauty, Edenbridge and Tunbridge Wells, are preparing to take the airport to task. The proposal affects Gatwick flight paths below 4,000ft and suggests a narrow flight path rather than the current one, which is spread out, although the exact location has not been revealed. There will be one corridor for daytime flights and another for night flights. Adding to a growing list of concerns raised by the consultation, which Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark described as “flawed,” critics are also criticising the decision to remove information about the ownership of Gatwick from the airport’s website. People have been greatly angered by the way Gatwick has conducted its consultation, and communities are working together. The airport is not succeeding in “divide and rule” between communities, to pass the buck of noise misery elsewhere.
“Scrap new flight paths,” says GACC in their response to Gatwick’s airspace consultation
Gatwick Airport’s consultation on new flight paths ends on Thursday, 14th August. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, the well regarded main environmental body concerned with Gatwick, with nearly 100 Borough, District and Parish Councils and environmental groups in the area as members) has submitted a powerful response (GACC AIRSPACE RESPONSE). The consultation has been highly inadequate, giving no flight path detail, and GACC is therefore asking the CAA to declare it void. GACC is demanding that all the new routes should be scrapped. They are asking that Gatwick and NATS should issue a new joint consultation, with detailed maps, showing all proposed flight paths at Gatwick for arrivals and departures up to 10,000 feet. GACC is also asking that the CAA should refuse permission for any new route outside existing NPRs until Gatwick agree to a scheme for compensation. Where flight paths are now concentrated on a single narrow line GACC is calling for compensation to be given to people whose houses are devalued. According to Brendon Sewill: “The law says that, when a new motorway is built, people with houses nearby must receive fair compensation. The same should apply to new motorways in the sky.”
Gatwick PR campaign strategy document, on influencing the key people, accidentally left on train
The plan by Gatwick to lobby “gold, silver and bronze” opinion formers against expansion at Heathrow rival has embarrassingly backfired after a dossier setting out the airport’s campaign strategy was left on a train. It was passed to the Sunday Times, which has revealed details of the plans. Gatwick has a “target” lists of opinion formers – politicians, civil servants, business leaders (and allegedly ?? environmentalists) – whom it hopes will put pressure on the Airports Commission and its members. There is a list of around 100 “gold tier” individuals, best able to exercise influence. Gatwick not only wants their target subjects to promote their runway, but also “neutralise the prevailing default bias that we perceive exists in favour of Heathrow”. Gatwick has commissioned a noise study by the CAA undermining Heathrow’s implausible claim that fewer people would suffer aircraft noise if it got a 3rd runway and increased flights by some 50%. Unsurprisingly the Gatwick study indicates far more people would be affected by Heathrow noise, with a 3rd runway at full capacity. Heathrow criticised Gatwick for not publishing all the technical documents related to its expansion plans, saying: “It is a shame that the only way anyone can scrutinise Gatwick’s plans is when their executives leave documents on a train.”
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark urges Gatwick CEO to “go back to the drawing board” on flight paths
Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, has written to Gatwick asking them to reconsider the “flawed” consultation on aircraft flight paths and noise, and urging them to “go back to the drawing board.” He recently (14th July) met Gatwick and NATS staff about the problem. He tells Gatwick that the consultation has not only caused outrage among his constituents for what it proposes but also for how the consultation has been managed. There are serious concerns among local in the area about the “superhighway” overhead, though Gatwick says the increase in noise is just that more Brits are flying abroad this summer, (on cheap flights for holidays). Greg says that the noise disturbance has considerably worsened recently and many have been “disturbed and dismayed by much higher levels of aircraft noise this summer.” He adds: “… the consultation has been unfit for its purpose…..(its) ..purpose was to have been to gauge reaction to particular precise routes. Yet the exact route has not been disclosed to the public. Instead, a wide swathe has been marked on maps which make it exceedingly difficult to work out what is the exact route proposed…..the proposals being put forward (are) too ill defined to comment properly.” He believes the misguided proposal to increase flights over Langton Green, Speldhurst, Rusthall and Bidborough should be rethought.
Francis Maude says it is intolerable for some people to be very intensively overflown, “to the extreme detriment of their lives”
Francis Maude, MP for Horsham, wrote that the ADNID trial has been almost six months of intense misery for many of his constituents. He has been liaising with the airport, the CAA, NATS and the Secretary of State for Transport on the trial and its impacts. Gatwick is aiming to increase potential take-offs at peak times from 55 to 58 per hour from its single runway, and to do this it claims to need more focused flight paths, allowed by better aircraft on-board navigation systems. Gatwick says it needs to use new NPR routes, rather than the established ones. Government policy is that the decision about new routes, which rests with the Secretary of State, will be based on reducing the numbers of people overflown, in a simple headcount exercise. But there are local circumstances which allow for other considerations – background noise, altitude above sea level – to be taken into account, and Francis says “this is our best hope of seeing off this threat.” Sharing of the noise misery burden may be tolerable but ” What is intolerable is when fewer people are very intensively overflown, to the extreme detriment of their lives.” He adds: “I have sought reassurance that the consultation being run by IpsosMori will be independently scrutinised by the CAA, using the raw data if necessary.”
Crispin Blunt MP investigates recent increase in aircraft noise in Redhill area due to changes to Gatwick flight paths
Following a recent increase in complaints of increased aircraft noise over Redhill and Earlswood, MP for Reigate, Crispin Blunt has visited Gatwick Airport for an explanation. He has also met Heathrow and the MP for Mole Valley, Sir Paul Beresford, to identify the cause of the increase in over-flight noise, and investigate potential remedies and future trends in aircraft noise patterns. Crispin has set out a clear explanation of what has been happenning, and why people in his constituency are now being affected. Gatwick is trying out new routing patterns, that might come into effect in 18 months time, by which flights take off in a similar pattern as before, but follow a much narrower air corridor over Redhill and Earlswood. This has reduced the area in which people are overflown, but concentrated the amount of noise that a smaller number of residents on the narrower flight path have to suffer. Some Gatwick departure aircraft are being held low by NATS over Redhill, to avoid aircraft stacking prior to landing at Heathrow. These are tracking north closer to Redhill than before. This is part of the FAS (Future Airspace Strategy) which is being worked on, and which will not be completed till 2019. By then, the conflict with the Heathrow routes may be resolved.
Gatwick’s consultation shows some 85% of respondents oppose a 2nd Gatwick runway
Gatwick Airport held a consultation over April and May 2014, to try to get backing for its plans for a 2nd runway, and the option the airport wants – the wide spaced option with the runway used for both arrivals and departures. This has always been what the airport wanted, and the proposal the Airports Commission short listed. The consultation gave two options, that the airport did not want and has no interest in. The consultation also initially had no means for any respondent to express their opposition to any new Gatwick runway, but eventually a “none of these options” box was added – difficult to locate, far into the document. The survey results are now out. They are deeply irritating to the airport, as they show huge opposition to any runway. Of about 7,700 respondents, well over 80% said NO. Of the 7,700 or so, only 733 backed Option 3 ( the runway option Gatwick wants) and 2,165 did not want a runway at all. 4,003 responses came through the Woodland Trust and these are being discounted, unjustifiably, as though part of an e-campaign, many contained specific comments made by the respondents. Taking all the responses for no runway, they amount to some 85% of the total. Even discounting the Woodland Trust responses, 66% opposed a new runway.
Germany’s DFS air traffic service beats NATS to control Gatwick flights below 4,000 feet
Gatwick Airport’s air traffic control services are to be provided by a German state-owned company from next year. A 10-year contract for services below 4,000ft around the airport has been given to Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS). The service has been provided for more than 30 years by Hampshire-based NATS, which will continue to navigate air traffic above 4,000ft. NATS said it was disappointed, but it was too early to say if jobs would go. DFS is wholly owned by the German government and operates 16 airports in Germany as well as providing air traffic control across the country. Gatwick management said it was planned that, after a period of transition, DFS would start work in October 2015. The successful bid by DFS comes a year after a UK pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) beat DFS for a 20% stake in NATS. The Airline Group, which had owned 42% of NATS before the sale, chose USS rather than DFS to buy the 20%, which meant that a partial de-facto merger between two of the largest European Air Navigation Service Providers did not happen.
Restrictions on UK ‘night flights’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted extended until 2017
In the Government’s response to the Airports Commission’s December 2013 interim report, Patrick McLoughlin announced that plans to more than double the number of ‘night flights’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports have been postponed until 2017. Under proposals outlined in the Commission’s interim report the number of planes allowed to land at the airport before 6am each day would have increased from 16 to 35 from 2015. The government now says it wants to ensure “regulatory stability” at south east airports while the Commission makes its final recommendations on which airport should be recommended to be allowed to build a new runway. The government is also extending the ban on “rare movements made by older noisier types of aircraft.” McLoughlin said: “This decision will help give certainty around the night noise environment for those living near the airports, as well as ensuring operational capacity at these airports is not affected pending decisions on any new airport capacity in light of the commission’s final report.” The government has also postponed the Commission’s recommendation for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority.
Gatwick admits to sacrificing the lives of those in countryside to satisfy its expansion plans
The Gatwick flight path trial, and other intensified flight paths associated with Gatwick, continue to cause not only annoyance but real distress to perhaps thousands in the area. In an article reported in part of the aviation media, some of the anger and frustration comes across, as well as the callous manner in which Gatwick airport appears to view people who live in the countryside, and whose quality of life has been attacked by plane noise. Stewart Wingate is reported as saying “Why would you choose to fly a quarter of a million more planes every year over one of the world’s most densely populated cities (London) when instead you can fly them mostly over fields.” His ignorant comment about the area over-flown by Gatwick planes as just fields has enraged people. The article says Mr Wingate “appears to suggest sacrificing the lifestyle, peace and quiet of those who have chosen to live outside cities for the profit of a few – the foreign owners of Gatwick Airport.” The airport has already started the process of ‘Air Grab’ over a number of Sussex towns and villages. That is a frightening prospect when Mr Wingate has said his ambition is to make Gatwick larger than Heathrow is today.
Flight path changes could create nationwide protests due to the scale of the areas affected
Writing in a blog, in response to the huge anger and upset there has been around Gatwick in response to the flight path trial over Warnham and nearby villages (called the ADNID trial, in the jargon), John Stewart anticipates that flightpath trials are going to be a real headache for the industry for years to come. He says “flightpath” will be the ‘F’ word that will be on everybody’s lips over the next few years. The big changes to flightpaths which are expected over the next 5 – 6 years could trigger protests on a scale that could exceed the opposition to any proposed new runway. In their scope, they could be more like the ‘anti-roads’ protests of the 1990s. The aviation industry is currently undertaking the most far-reaching changes to airspace across the UK for 60 years, due to the EU scheme, SESAR. It is changes to the Heathrow flight paths that are making the industry particularly nervous. That’s the reason why flightpaths at Gatwick and London City are being looked at first – and why Heathrow is very tentatively experimenting with new take-off techniques. “What will worry Heathrow in particular is that the consultation on its flight path changes, expected around 2016/17, could coincide with the decision of the next Government as to whether or not to back a 3rd runway.”