...and get rid of ‘disliked’ complaints process, say experts
Experts drafted into review Gatwick noise will recommend aircraft fly ‘higher, longer and cleaner’ to minimise disruption to residents.
That was the message delivered to hundreds of Tunbridge Wells’ residents who turned out on Saturday to protest at flight paths and ‘intolerable’ sound levels.
The meeting at the Assembly Hall came days before media reports suggested an announcement of a third runway at Heathrow airport was imminent, possibly this week.
Civil aviation experts Graham Lake and Bo Redeman will promote the need to ‘keep aircraft as high as possible for as long as possible, to ‘keep power as low as possible for as long as possible’, to ‘keep aircraft clean’ and to ‘minimise flights over busy and sensitive areas’.
Communities in the south east have been fuming over the ‘intolerable noise’ generated by Gatwick’s ‘aerial superhighways’, the product of airspace changes made, they claim, without proper public consultation.
Messrs Lake and Redeman, who was joined on stage by MP Greg Clark, acknowledged there were ‘significant improvements to be made’ to Gatwick’s operations.
Their recommendations will be published on January 28 which they claimed will be hard for Gatwick’s management not to implement.
While admitting there was much Gatwick could do better with regard to community impact by air traffic, Mr Lake was keen to stress that there were other responsible parties.
He said: “We will be recommending addressing the way planning obligations are implemented, as planners and developers are currently not taking proper account of the impact aircraft routes and noise will have on residents inhabiting a residential development.”
Mr Lake would endeavour to convince the airport, air traffic control providers and aviation authority leaders to reduce noise and then decide on the best routes.
A further recommendation they would be making was to ‘not accept schedules with built in delays’ as this leads to more night flights, which are particularly disruptive for those residents living beneath flight paths.
Mr Lake stated their belief that there ‘should be greater dispersal’, one shared by all anti-Gatwick campaign groups, and said they ‘would pursue equal distribution on both sides of the airport’, a promise met by loud applause.
He also pledged to ‘tear up the vehemently disliked complaints process’, which made headlines recently when a record number of protests were received despite a change to the way they are recorded.
Asked if there was any guarantee Gatwick would act on these recommendations, Mr Redeborn said: “We are in contact with them and trying to convince them of the importance of accepting the recommendations, and are ‘optimistic’ that they will.”
The review leaders reassured the audience that their involvement would not end with the publication of the report.