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Campaigners attack Gatwick flight paths proposals
4:15pm Monday 21st October 2013 in News
New flight paths around Gatwick Airport “are liable to cause extreme anger as people find their peace shattered and their houses devalued.” That was the warning this week from the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), as it reacted strongly to proposals put forward for consultation jointly by the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Gatwick Airport Limited.
GACC stated the plans are nothing to do with proposals for a second runway at Gatwick, which it is dead-set against, but have been put forward “to revamp many of the existing flight paths around Gatwick.”
The group, which is the main environmental body concerned with the airport and which has as members nearly 100 borough, district and parish councils and environmental groups, covering about a 20-mile radius from Gatwick, warned of “new flight paths over areas which are at present peaceful, in order to increase the number of aircraft able to use the runway.”
In a release this week, it stated: “GACC has warned that such changes are liable to cause extreme anger as people find their peace shattered and their houses devalued.”
GACC continued that while more concentrated flight paths based on more accurate aircraft navigation might mean fewer people being affected, “it would make life hell for those under the new flight path.”
It added: “Some way must be found to compensate the few who will suffer for the benefit of the millions who enjoy cheap holidays.”
The group added that a reform of the pattern of aircraft queuing up to land at Gatwick “could bring new noise to wide areas of Sussex, and to parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire.”
But it did give what it called “a cautious welcome” to the proposed possibility of ‘respite’ by using two flight paths on alternate days.
The group stated: “GACC gives a cautious welcome to this idea, but only if there are no new routes over peaceful areas, and only if there is proper research into potential health impacts and into whether people actually like having twice as many aircraft overhead on a Monday in order to have none on Tuesday.”
GACC said it was advising all its members to study the new consultation and to express their views forcefully.
The group stated: “This consultation includes nothing to show where the new flight paths might be.
“Instead it is couched in general terms, asking people to comment on broad concepts. “There are no maps, and it is apparently intended that no maps will be produced until after the end of the consultation, and that there will be no further consultation.”
But John Byng, GACC vice-chairman, said: “I am delighted that the airport consultative committee has backed our demand that this should be the first of two consultations.
"Once the responses have been analysed there must be a second consultation on the maps showing the proposed flight paths.”
GACC chairman Brendon Sewill, of Stan Hill, Charlwood, added: “This is a warning of worse – perhaps – to come.
“If there were ever to be a new runway it would mean twice as many aircraft in the sky and double the number of flight paths.”
Sally Pavey, GACC committee member from Warnham, said: “This is about not sharing the load of planes taking off from Gatwick, but about a commercial organisation endeavouring to profit from a greater number of flights – at the expense of home owners.”
GACC further stated: “Last time NATS undertook a consultation on new flight paths, in 2008, it was in relation to flight paths north of the Thames.
“That time they did publish maps showing the proposed flight paths, and got back about 15,000 objections – so many that they had to drop the scheme.
“So this time they are trying to get away with no maps.”
But a spokesman for Gatwick Airport denied any new areas would be affected by airspace change, saying it would happen within current flight paths.
The spokesman added that airspace change is happening for all airports in the UK in 2018 to 2019, is being led by NATS in conjunction with European Union legislation and the Civil Aviation Authority, that Gatwick has opted to go first to allow a three-month consultation period with as many responses as possible wanted, and he said the maps GACC was referring to could be found at: http://www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk/ “Gatwick is committed to leading the way in terms of airspace innovation and operation, which is why we were so keen to be the first major UK airport to work with NATS to fully review and consult on our airspace,” he said. “Gatwick’s noise impacts are already well mitigated and significantly lower than at other major airports. “However, the airport continues to look at ways to further reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise, in line with Government policy.”
He said: “This project gives us an opportunity to further reduce the number of people affected by noise, as well as focus on further reducing Co2 emissions and air quality impacts.
“Therefore, this is an important time for local people and those who live within our flight paths, who now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give their feedback and influence the future of our airspace.”