Four local MPs have joined together to hail Gatwick’s decision to accept the recommendations made in the recent arrivals review as a ‘significant step in the right direction’ in combatting noise from low flying aircraft.
But they have also warned Gatwick not to backtrack on its decision to accept all twenty-three recommendations in the Independent Review which, if fully implemented, could see a significant reduction in the disturbance experienced by residents across West Kent and East Sussex.
In a joint statement Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, Wealden MP Nus Ghani, Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon and the MP for Tonbridge, Tom Tugendhat said: “There is no doubt this is another significant step in the right direction.
“However, the fight is far from over and none of us will rest until these changes are made.
“In particular, terms such as ‘minded to’ and ‘subject to further discussions’ must not be getouts from the clear recommendations.
“The four of us are united in our determination to see these proposals implemented without delay and we have asked to meet Gatwick Airport Limited, the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] and NATS [air traffic control] as soon as possible to press this case.”
The statement comes after years of negative publicity for the airport, which had found itself facing a range of increasingly hostile campaign groups opposing both a second runway and its 2013 decision to narrow flight paths.
Many of these organisations, and some MPs, had complained that the narrowing had led to intolerable levels of noise pollution for those under the busier flight paths.
Most had sought a ‘fair and equitable dispersal’ of incoming craft, which would spread the aircraft over a greater area, affecting more people but to a much lesser extent.
This position was backed by the Independent Review of Arrivals, which was published in January.
In response to the report Gatwick said: “Arrival routing scenarios have been developed for the short and medium term, which offers dispersal of flights, or respite measures, as a means of ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of aircraft noise.”
It also said it would reduce noise by:
- Keeping the aircraft high for as long as possible
- Keeping the aircraft at low engine power for as long as possible, to reduce engine noise
- Keeping the aircraft in a clean aerodynamic configuration for as long as possible, to reduce airframe noise
- Minimising flights over highly populated or sensitive areas
Brendon Sewill, Chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said the group welcomed the airport’s response to the review ‘in general’, adding:
“Gatwick were forced into undertaking this review because for the past two years complaints about aircraft noise have been running six times as high as previously.
“The most important change is to widen the swathe in which aircraft approach from the south. That will achieve what many protest groups want – a more ‘fair and equitable’ distribution of flights.”
However, he cautioned changes were still subject to agreement by air traffic control and a period of ‘community engagement’ and there were as yet ‘no details’ on the new distribution of aircraft.
Sir Roy McNulty, Gatwick Airport chairman, said: “The review has proved to be a very constructive process and I am very pleased both by the positive nature of its recommendations and by the positive reception it has received.
“We have published an implementation plan for each recommendation and I believe that in aggregate these actions will make a significant difference to the noise impacts experienced by residents around the airport.”
A further opportunity for members of the public to influence the proposals has been provided with residents encouraged to email (before 16 May): ArrivalsReview@gatwickairport.com