Expect many more flights over Horsham, conservation group warns

The area that would be affected by the proposed changes to Gatwick flights
The area that would be affected by the proposed changes to Gatwick flights

Planned changes to flights in and out of Gatwick Airport would mean many more planes over Horsham, a conservation group has warned.

Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign [GACC] is urging people to take part in a consultation on airspace use.

The group says the plans include making much greater use of a flight path which passes between Horsham and Faygate.

NATS [National Air Traffic Services] say the changes will mean fuel savings for airlines, lower CO2 emissions, and less noise overall for people living below.

In a message to the County Times this week, GACC said: “These plans, which are nothing to do with a second runway, include:

“- New flight paths over areas which are at present peaceful – in order to increase the number of aircraft able to use the runway. GACC has warned that such changes are liable to cause extreme anger as people find their peace shattered and their houses devalued.

“- More concentrated flight paths based on more accurate aircraft navigation. GACC says that even if this would mean fewer people affected it would make life hell for those under the new flight path. Some way must be found to compensate the few who will suffer for the benefit of the millions who enjoy cheap holidays.

“- A major reform of the pattern of aircraft queuing up to land. GACC says this could bring new noise to wide areas of Sussex, and to parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire.

“- The possibility of ‘respite’ by using two flight paths on alternate days. GACC gives a cautious welcome to this idea but only if there are no new routes over peaceful areas, and only if there is proper research into potential health impacts and into whether people actually like having twice as many aircraft overhead on a Monday in order to have none on Tuesday.”

Sally Pavey, GACC committee member from Warnham, said: “This is about not sharing the load of planes taking off from Gatwick but about a commercial organisation endeavouring to profit from a greater number of flights – at the expense of home owners.”

Their statement referred to ‘new’ flight paths. A Gatwick Airport representative told the County Times that their plans do not technically involve any new routes - only changes to the number of flights on the existing routes.

He said: “The airspace change is happening for all airports in the UK in 2018/19 no matter what – and is being led by NATS in conjunction with EU legislation and the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority].”

He added that Gatwick has begun the consultation as early as possible so as to give people time to respond.

“Gatwick is committed to leading the way in terms of airspace innovation and operation, which is why we were so keen to be the first major UK airport to work with NATS to fully review and consult on our airspace,” he said.

“Gatwick’s noise impacts are already well mitigated and significantly lower than at other major airports. However, the airport continues to look at ways to further reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise in line with Government policy.

“This project gives us an opportunity to further reduce the number of people affected by noise, as well as focus on further reducing Co2 emissions and air quality impacts.”

A NATS representative said: “We learn from every consultation we undertake. The vast majority of responses to our 2008 consultation came from people under the proposed flight path.

“We understand that people will always prefer that aircraft fly over someone else, and unsurprisingly they all objected.

“There were very few responses from people further away, so the consultation provided virtually no information of any help except that we needed to consult earlier in the design process and get people’s input before route positions are finalised.

“In this, the London Airspace Consultation, we are asking everyone in the geographic areas identified to assume that a new route may go over them and therefore to provide us with the local information they believe we should factor into designing final route positions. It is important to remember that this whole area is already overflown today and the changes we are proposing will overall mean less noise for more people.”

Take part online at www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk