Campaigners have claimed the dramatic increase in noise complaints about Gatwick flights is proof a second runway should not be allowed at the airport.
The Civil Aviation Authority released a report last month that showed almost 13,000 people were adversely affected by Gatwick night flights, a 15 per cent increase from the previous year.
The increase comes despite the fact the airport has changed the way it counts complaints, with multiple issues raised by the same person on the same day now counted as a single incidence.
The Times has previously reported that Gatwick had changed its flight paths, into ‘aerial superhighways’, according to campaigners. The initial phase of a review into the move is due to be completed this month.
Tunbridge Wells pressure group TW No to Gatwick was formed last month in response to an ‘uprising’ of people complaining about the recent surge in ‘intolerable’ aircraft noise.
And last Sunday, Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions released a short film highlighting the plight of residents, businesses and communities beneath the flight paths.
Chairman Sally Pavey said: “We launched the film to raise the issue that communities are being blighted by concentrated flight paths, and that if this is what we’re suffering now there’s no way Gatwick should get a second runway.
“The 15 per cent increase in complaints proves what people are saying about sleep deprivation being a major issue for them.
“We would go as far to ask if actual calculations have been done on the cost to people’s health.
“Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, constant noise is used in warfare. But the government has simply not done any research into the long-term effects.”
Claudia Williamson, a nutritional therapist based in Tunbridge Wells said: “Broken sleep is very detrimental on many levels, not just fatigue.
“Studies have shown that people who don’t sleep have more weight problems than those who sleep well.
“And if people are concerned about not being able to sleep, waiting for the planes to go overhead, that can be enough to stop them from sleeping by itself.
“It effects work performance, and could also be a health concern for people as they get older as well, as they tend to sleep less at night already.
“People have enough stress in their lives as it is.”
A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: “Gatwick recognises that aircraft noise has an impact on people living near the airport and will continue to do everything possible to minimise its effects.
“For example, in response to feedback from local residents, Gatwick commissioned an independent review of air traffic arriving into Gatwick. Similarly, following concerns from the local community, we are working toward implementing a redesigned of the westerly departure flight path that takes aircraft close to Redhill and Reigate.
“The increase in people affected has been influenced by an increase in aircraft movements, a change in the fleet mix from planes with propellers to small jets, and an increase in population due to Gatwick’s immigration centre being included in the numbers.”