Residents of Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells may breathe a sigh of relief following Gatwick’s announcement that it had rewidened the approaching flightpath on Monday (August 15).
Campaigners who have long fought to have the westerly path rewidened have celebrated the move, which is one of 23 recommendations made in the Independent Review of Arrivals published at the start of the year.
The changes mean aircraft will now approach across a broader area and will start their descent further west, resulting in less noise in towns such as Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
In effect, it will reverse a decision to narrow the path in 2013 which led to the creation of the ‘aerial super-highway’.
This caused more intense noise pollution for those living below and provoked the formation of several protest groups.
Graham Lake, a member of the airport’s Arrivals Review Team, said he was ‘very pleased’ to announce the changes after several months working on the ‘complex’ issue.
Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge & Malling, welcomed the news, but said he would continue to monitor the situation ‘closely’.
He added: “The flightpath changes that came into play on Monday are significant, and should make a difference to the level of noise we hear from aircraft in the area.
“To get to this stage is a superb achievement. Let’s make sure the changes get the quieter skies we deserve.”
But Martin Barraud of Gatwick Obviously Not – a well-established campaign group based in Penshurst – said further action was needed.
He said: “Rewidening alone is not the cure-all so do not expect a dramatic change.
“This is an evolutionary process. Rewidening is a part of the jigsaw, which also includes smoother flight descent, higher altitudes and the far-too-slow fixing of the easyJet whine.”