Campaigners are calling for a six-month flight path trial at Gatwick Airport to be scrapped, warning 30 or more towns and villages could be in line for a “nightmare” of aircraft noise.
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) has highlighted the “outrage” caused by the new flight path trial in the parish of Warnham, and has called it a “wake-up call.” The group said the six-month trial is designed to enable more aircraft to take off from Gatwick, but added it could be a vision of things to come if a second runway is built at the airport.
GACC chairman Brendon Sewill, who lives at Stan Hill, Charlwood, said: “It is just a small foretaste of what is to come if a new runway were to be built.”
Mr Sewill said: “With a new runway, the new flight paths would bring anger and misery to perhaps 30 or more towns and villages.
“And that would be permanent - not just for six months.”
He added: “Warnham is a wake-up call for why we should all oppose a new runway.”
The flight path trial has sparked a wave of protest in nearby Warnham.
GACC committee member Sally Pavey, who lives in Warnham, said: “The tranquillity of our 14th century conservation village has been lost and we seem powerless to do anything about it.”
She said: “Everyone is up in arms as we are woken at 6am with an aircraft overhead every few minutes.
“Living in Warnham has turned into a nightmare!”
Calling for the flight path trial to be stopped, GACC vice chairman John Byng said: “It is due to last six months, which could be intolerable.” He said: “It has also proved what we have always said – that any new route causes maximum anger as people find their peace destroyed and their houses devalued.”
GACC is the main environmental body concerned with Gatwick and has as members nearly 100 borough, district and parish councils and environmental groups, covering about a 20-mile radius from the airport. A voluntary association founded in 1968, GACC has as its goals a steady reduction in noise and pollution from the airport, and other key aims including the protection of the environment around Gatwick, and keeping the airport within its present boundaries. The flight path trials, which started on February 17 and will continue for six months, are being run by National Air Traffic Services, working with the airport. Planes pass over the village at approximately 2,000ft and villagers say they can be as frequent as every five minutes. Concerns have been raised for the health of the residents – particularly the elderly and disabled.
A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said: “The trial is part of the Future Airspace Strategy; a UK-wide programme looking at modernising airspace routes and improving the efficiency of airspace. “The departure route, which enables aircraft to climb more quickly after take-off, reduces the over-all number of people affected by aircraft noise and overflight.”