Ed Crutchley has previously prepared reports reviewing the progress with the recommendations contained in the Arrivals Review of 2016, and we have published them here on our Web site. They are always helpful and informative.
You can read his 2018 report under the COMMENT tab, above, or click HERE
To the East of Gatwick we seem to have had a quieter time than usual this spring (we hope that you agree). It would be tempting to think that this is because Gatwick have improved the noise performance of their arrivals, but sadly this is not the case.
We have had an exceptional run of Easterly winds since January, which means that there have been significantly less arrivals coming in from the Tunbridge Wells direction; good news for us, not so good for those to the West of Gatwick. Between February and July this year there have been 54% Westerly winds, in 2017 it was 74%; a big difference.
With the recent change in the weather there has been a return to more frequent Westerly winds, with the consequent return to the familiar pattern of overflying with some persistent arrivals which we think are lower than necessary.
Gatwick have just announced further plans to expand the facilities at the airport, investing a further £1.1 billion in a 5-year programme to allow for passenger numbers to increase by 8 million to 53 million by 2023. The latest round of funding will bring the total investment by the airport's current owners to £3.14bn.
This further investment is intended to accommodate larger aircraft, with a growing number of long-haul flights. We understand that growth in transatlantic routes to the US from Gatwick helped the airport’s busiest-ever May, although many other routes also contributed.
The owners of Gatwick will want a good return on this substantial investment, so we can expect the level of activity at Gatwick to continue to rise inexorably which gives particular point to the Communities’ insistence that the benefits be shared with those who pay the price with increasing disturbance.
1. Who is TWAANG? A growing Group of residents of the town of Tunbridge Wells who are working in partnership with other action groups to limit the noise and volume of aircraft flying over our airspace. Contacts : Dr Irene Fairbairn, Chair, at email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. What’s the problem? Westerly arrivals flight paths to Gatwick were changed at the end of 2013 and now low flying airplanes (often at 4-4,500ft) fly over Tunbridge Wells day and night. This change was originally denied and no consultation with Tunbridge Wells residents took place. Government aviation policy is to avoid flight paths over densely populated areas where possible. Why is this policy not being implemented?
3. When TWAANG was formed in the Autumn of 2015 to ensure that the town’s particular concerns could be added to the Independent Arrivals Review then being undertaken for Gatwick by Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake. The deadline for responses and submissions was 30 November 2015. Up until mid October 2015 there had been no residents' voice for the town of Tunbridge Wells to add to those of the surrounding villages, all of whom have been affected by the changed flight paths.
4. Why? Tunbridge Wells is a town of 58,000 and will be expanding rapidly in the coming decade. It is at the heart of a conurbation with a current population of over 74,000. Since the change in flight paths Gatwick had received a 550% increase in complaints mostly from Tunbridge Wells. The health and wellbeing of residents is at risk through jet fuel emissions and the effects of sleep deprivation and intrusive aircraft noise when awake. An important characteristic of the town is the 300 acres of parks and commons, ‘countryside within a town’. Aircraft noise destroys the tranquility and purpose of these amenities. It may well begin to erode Tourism which contributes 30% to the town’s economy.
Gaining support from local residents.
Engagement via Gatwick's Noise Management Board with the implementation process of the Arrivals Review Report's recommendations for westerly arrivals into Gatwick.
Lobbying local MP Greg Clark and local Councillors to stand up for Tunbridge Wells.
Liaising with other pressure groups fighting the Gatwick flight paths and arguing for noise mitigation.
We have brought TWAANG's Aims and Objectives described here up to date with our new draft Constitution:
SHORT TERM AIMS UNTIL 2022 - post Arrivals Review recommendations
In essence, full and speedy implementation of the Arrivals Review recommendations.
Wide Swathe with the earliest joining point at 8nm* on the ILS and emulating as closely as possible the pre-2013 flight path distribution.
Continuous Descent Approaches from maximum height and at approximately 3 degrees, using a Low Power Low Drag (LPLD) configuration. This would result in additional height over the Tunbridge Wells conurbation and elsewhere.
Early modification of all A320 series aircraft using Gatwick, including those of EasyJet and British Airways, to stop the whine.
To support Tunbridge Wells representation at GATCOM and to represent Tunbridge Wells on the Noise Management Board.
Reduction in numbers of night flights and implementation of the earliest joining point for night flights at 8nm (currently at 10nm).
LONGER TERM AIMS – Precision Based Navigation (PBN). 2022 ONWARDS
Influence the design of flight paths to avoid the Tunbridge Wells conurbation including schools, hospitals and heritage sites. This is in line with current government aviation policy where it is recommended that flight paths should avoid densely populated areas wherever possible and minimise the number of people affected. It is also essential to ensure that the adverse environmental impact from airplanes, most particularly aircraft noise, it is given proper consideration.
Maximum Height, 5* (high standard) Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) and the Arrivals Review recommendations with respect to stacking over water and timed arrivals etc.
The number of night flights and the impact of these on the population of the Tunbridge Wells conurbation to be minimised.