A trial flight path that has incensed Warnham villagers is ‘unacceptable’ and should be scrapped - according to Horsham MP Francis Maude.
More than 300 residents from the village and surrounding area, as well as Horsham and Rusper, gathered outside the village church on Sunday to protest against changes made to the route some aircraft departing Gatwick Airport have started to take.
The six-month trial began three weeks ago which the airport claims will allow planes to climb quicker after take-off, reducing the overall amount of people affected by aircraft noise.
But villagers are furious at not being consulted and feel the ‘tranquillity’ of the countryside is being destroyed by planes constantly flying overhead.
On Sunday Mr Maude said: “Even these last few weeks, with the weather keeping people indoors and off season traffic levels, the noise from the flight path trial has been unacceptable for local residents.
“When high holiday season is on us, with the warm weather enticing people outside, the effects are likely to be intolerable.
“So I’m urging NATS [National Air Traffic Services] and Gatwick to call time on this trial now. We’ve had the trial. It’s failed.”
Warnham resident Sally Pavey said: “It is wrong that all we can do is telephone the answerphone at Gatwick Airport to complain.
“We are assured our calls will be logged but it’s like asking a child to mark their own homework, we do not know if each complaint will be logged separately or if our address is only logged once.
“Surely an independent body like the Civil Aviation Authority should be monitoring Gatwick’s new flight path trial.”
Another angry resident Cliff Chilton, who lives in Capel Road, Rusper, said: “The flight path would normally be off in the distance in Surrey but now it’s coming over the top of my house. There’s been no notification.
“At six in the morning you are woken up by planes thundering over your house.
“It’s just not acceptable.”
Responding to residents’ criticism two weeks ago a spokesperson for Gatwick said that it was not required to hold any consultation as it was only a trial, and changes were aligned with the Government’s policy of reducing the amount of people affected by aircraft noise.
West Sussex county councillor Liz Kitchen (Con, Warnham and Rusper), and Horsham district councillor Stuart Ritchie (Con, Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham) have both expressed their opposition to the flight path changes.
Meanwhile Warnham Parish Council confirmed it would be lodging a complaint.
Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, which is fighting a second runway at the airport, said: “It was good to meet so many people of Warnham this morning as well as a number of others from other parishes that have also been affected.
“People are starting to realise the threat of a second runway and are starting to ask serious questions about the implications that expanding Gatwick would have on them all.”
The Davies Commission is currently looking at the future of airport capacity in the South East. A second runway for Gatwick was among shortlisted options announced last October with a final recommendation to central Government due in 2015.