Proposals by Gatwick Airport to significantly cut the cost of night flight landing charges has been severely criticised by a group of eight MPs, including Tom Tugendhat.
The Tonbridge & Malling MP signed a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, which claims the move will have ‘a devastating impact’ on communities across the area.
As previously reported by the Times, Mr Tugendhat had raised the issue of night flight noise caused by the dispersal of flight patterns which was blighting the lives of residents and businesses across West Kent.
Although Gatwick has pledged to resolve that particular problem, its latest proposals to reduce landing charges at night have been condemned by MPs, as well as campaign groups such as Gatwick Obviously Not.
The MPs joint letter, drafted by the office of Mr Tugendhat, urged the Government to take action over the airport’s bid to alter its pricing policy.
It read: “We all represent communities affected by noise from aircraft using Gatwick. The constant stream of aircraft damages the economic prosperity and environmental sustainability of towns and villages on all sides of the airport.
“It is therefore regrettable, and in our view not acceptable, that Gatwick Airport propose to charge significantly less for night flights than for day flights from 2017/18. This appears to be designed to increase demand for night flights in the run-up to your review of the regulatory regime for such flights due in 2017.”
Under present guidelines from the Government and Civil Aviation Authority, night flight restrictions are separated into winter and summer seasons that apply daily between 11.30pm and 6am. There is a points based system in operation revolving around noise volumes of each aircraft type.
Mr Tugendhat said: “The real issue over night flying is over noise, which carries further at night. It has been a great problem and one that is unfair on residents who are being deprived of sleep, and their children are waking up tired for school.
“It’s a problem that is worse the further west you get towards the runway, but it is an issue right across our area.”
The MP is planning to meet Gatwick bosses in a bid to resolve the issue.
A Gatwick spokesman responded: “We have consulted on a range of improvements to night flight charges and there are no plans to increase the number of night flights which is set by the Department for Transport.
“Gatwick already adheres to a strict night flights limit and is committed to a charging system which incentivises operators to use quieter aircraft.”
Tom Tugendhat, MP Tonbridge / Crispin Blunt, MP Reigate / Sir Paul Beresford, MP Mole Valley / Nus Ghani, MP Wealden / Nick Herbert, MP Arundel and South Downs / Jeremy Quin, MP Horsham / Henry Smith, MP Crawley / Sir Nicholas Soames, MP Mid Sussex
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark was unable to sign the letter due to collective Cabinet responsibility