Renewed call for East Surrey residents to give feedback on proposed airspace changes

Residents across East Surrey and beyond are being urged to have their say on proposed airspace changes.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and Gatwick Airport are appealing for local feedback on proposed changes on how the skies above their homes will be used in the future, with a particular focus on reducing aircraft noise.

The joint public consultation on the proposals has now reached the half-way mark, with seven weeks left for people to submit their views.

NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic services, and Gatwick, the UK's second biggest airport and the busiest single runway-airport in the world, have stated they want local people to let them know what needs to be considered in the design.

They have stated local airspace is set to change, but residents have an early opportunity to influence where aircraft will fly.

People living across Sussex, Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Hampshire are also being urged to get involved in the consultation.

NATS said in a statement this week: “This input could be on noise sensitive sites such as open areas prized for their quietness, or noise sensitive industries – specifically any place which could be affected if aircraft were to fly directly over it. “Stakeholders are also being asked for their views on how to balance CO2 with noise, as avoiding some places means flying longer routes that produce more CO2.”

The statement continued: “This information will be used to help establish new routes which offer the most benefit with the least possible impact.

“At low levels near London Gatwick, the solution may be to offer some sites ‘respite’ – periods when there will be no flights directly overhead. “This could be at certain times of the day or days of the week. All suggestions both for locations and timings are welcome.”

Airspace above the south of England is some of the busiest in the world. The consultation is the first stage in a wider programme of proposed changes to deliver the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), which will be legally required to come into effect in 2020. Gatwick is the first major airport to consult on all levels of its airspace and all other airports will be required to follow suit.

Tom Denton, head of corporate responsibility at London Gatwick, said: “Aircraft have to fly somewhere, so we really need local people to look around their communities, imagine the impacts of being overflown more than today, and feedback on sites and businesses this could have a detrimental impact on. “We really need local people’s help on this to ensure new routes have the least impact possible.”

Paul Haskins, general manager of London Terminal Control, NATS, said: “We have been asked why we are consulting on swathes of airspace instead of routes, and have clarified this on the website – www.londonairspaceconsultation.com - where there is all of the information necessary to make an informed response.”

He said: “In previous consultations, where we have specified routes, we have primarily received responses from people under them – who unsurprisingly have objected. “We are consulting early in the process this time on swathes of airspace within which the routes will have to be positioned, and we are asking people to tell us what local information we should factor into designing final route positions. “We are asking everyone to assume that a new route may go over them.”

The London Airspace Consultation (LAC) will run until January 21 and is available online for everyone to view, consider and leave feedback at: www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk The postcode search facility and clickable maps with consultation areas clearly marked, make it easy to see which proposed changes have the most relevance to a specific location. Feedback can be given directly on the website.

NATS stated that during the first half of the consultation a number of questions have been asked by the public and community groups, including why the consultation is on swathes, or wide areas over which aircraft could fly, rather than defined routes.

NATS said that the consultation is not linked to airport expansion or additional runways, and stressed that the whole of the South-east is already overflown, and the proposals won’t change that, but will change the number of aircraft overhead in some areas - some will have more, some less.

NATS concluded: “At this stage, the proposed changes focus on the airspace supporting London Gatwick Airport from ground level up, and to the airspace supporting London City, Southend and Biggin Hill airports above 4,000ft. “Later stages will address proposals for airspace supporting other parts of the London airports network, to be complete by 2020.”

Website: www.nats.co.uk

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