What is happening with the Gatwick Aircraft noise story
GATWICK TO GO AHEAD WITH THEIR MASTER PLAN
Gatwick’s expansion plans are based on the following proposals:
making better use of its existing main runway through improved techniques for handling air traffic;
making routine use of its standby runway for departing flights;
protecting the land that would be required if it obtained permission for a third runway.
Gatwick will have to submit its proposals for a Development Consent Order, a lengthy and thorough process which requires Parliamentary approval for nationally important infrastructure projects. The process includes close scrutiny and further consultation.
We need to take every opportunity to shape Gatwick’s plans to ensure both that the airport thrives and that the rights of the local communities and wider public’s entitlement to live healthy, tranquil and productive lives are properly respected.
Increased use of the main runway will inevitably increase the level and frequency of disturbance. Use of the present standby runway for departures could increase the number of flights by 30% in the short term according to the Master Plan, and almost 40% by 2033. This would not only increase the pressure on arrival flights Eastwards over Tunbridge Wells at busy times, as we already see, but also exacerbate the problem of delayed flights being forced into the late evening and night - already an issue of considerable concern.
Gatwick’s plans for a new main runway were rejected by the Davies Commission in 2015. But Heathrow’s third runway is not yet a certainty, and if it were to fail then Gatwick would take the opportunity to press its case again. According to the Master Plan: ‘An additional runway would add significant capacity to the existing airport, approximately doubling its size.’
Gatwick’s capacity would then rival Heathrow’s - we find the prospect appalling.
The Tunbridge Wells conurbation is not only the largest and most densely populated area affected by Gatwick’s activities, but it also contains a large number of sensitive sites such as Schools, Hospitals and Nursing Homes as well as nearby historic buildings and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
You can see the final Master Plan (186 pages) or download it here:
Our local MPs and the local authorities close to the airport are seriously concerned about the infrastructure implications, too, and are not in favour of the proposals as they stand. The Master Plan makes too little provision for the necessary road, rail, housing and other work essential to the schemes.
This is the Press Release issued by the Gatwick Coordination Group of MPs which includes Greg Clark, opposing the Master Plan proposals:
The Government published a Green Paper Consultation Document, starting the process which will introduce legislation that will determine aviation strategy for the next 30 years and more.
We are very concerned that the proposals give absolute priority to aviation growth over all other considerations, including environmental and noise issues. These are mostly addressed in weak and generalised terms. Economic issues are very important, but so are the short- and long-term health and wellbeing of the population and the Climate Change emergency.
The Consultation period was extended to Thursday 20th June, it will be very important to respond if possible. However, the Green Paper is a lengthy document (200 pages) so responding is far from easy. You can download the full Green Paper here:
Rt Hon Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, wrote to Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick, in response to the Consultation on the airport's Draft Master Plan 2018. The Consultation ended on 10th January.
We think that Greg expresses the concerns of the constituency very well. You can read and download his letter here:
This ambitious project involves the major restructuring of the airspace above SE England by the Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority. The area to be considered runs from Exeter in the West to Norwich and the East Coast. It is a long-term project, intended for implementation around 2024 and to last until 2070. The process starts with airspace above 9,000ft, and will progressively involve integrating those plans with the flight patterns required by all the airports in the area. Active Community involvement starts in the later stages.
We attended a presentation at Gatwick on 3 November. A Briefing Paper was published which explains the plans, you can see and download it here.
This plan will replace existing arrangements in due course, we think that it will offer real improvements but there will inevitably be issues such as the concentration of flight paths that will have to be addressed.