A borough councillor has thrown his support behind the creation of a Tunbridge Wells action group to coordinate the fight against ‘intolerable’ changes in Gatwick’s flight paths.
Cllr Lawrence Heasman, who represents The Pantiles and St Mark’s ward, said TW No to Gatwick is ‘in its infancy’ but had come about in response to an ‘uprising’ of people complaining about the recent surge in aircraft noise.
And while much of the surrounding countryside has seen action groups spring up to represent the villages and small towns affected, a group for Tunbridge Wells has been noticeably absent.
He said: “I feel given the feedback I’m getting as a councillor that residents in Tunbridge Wells are fed up with the persistence of overflights.
“There are many residents’ groups that I’m sure would wish to join with TW No to Gatwick action group in order to get Tunbridge Wells’ voice heard.”
Mr Heasman said that although changes to the flight path started to have an effect last year, it took time before people really noticed the impact.
He added: “It’s only more recently that Tunbridge Wells became aware of the huge amount of flights overhead but people have realised it is now a lot more noisy.”
The fledgling group already has the backing of the Warwick Park Residents’ Association, Cllr Heasman said, with other associations showing an interest in signing up.
Mr Heasman is keen to capitalise on the review into flight paths which has been launched by Gatwick, as reported by the Times last week.
He said: “It’s a good thing a review is being held and it will be an opportunity to get our voice heard. I shall be attending a meeting with review leader Bo Redeborn next week at Gatwick.”
Mr Heasman is clear on his desire to co-operate with neighbouring action groups rather than look out for Tunbridge Wells alone and push the problem on to others.
He said: “We want the voice of this town in the mix, but it is vital we work with the other groups.”
But while the email address TWnotogatfirstname.lastname@example.org has now been registered by Mr Heasman, he warned the group will not get very far unless people took a proactive approach.
He explained: “We need younger residents in Tunbridge Wells who can help set this up just as Gatwick Obviously Not has managed to do.”
Jo Howell, a Wealden district councillor who represents Frant, said she ‘welcomed’ the creation of a new group for Tunbridge Wells adding: “None of us chose to live next to an airport, but recently Gatwick has had a huge impact on people, businesses and tourism in this area.
“We don’t mind taking our fair share of flights, but we do mind taking all of it.”
Sally Pavey, a committee member of Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions (Cagne) also welcomed the creation of a Tunbridge Wells action group, adding that it is one of many new groups set up in recent months.
She said: “They are not alone, we are seeing the formation of many specific groups. It is a reaction of residents to the typical ‘go away’ letters from Gatwick.
“Until Gatwick accepts concentration of flight paths does not work, many more groups will pop up. We would very much like them to work with us in trying to resolve this.”