LETTER: Patronising response to aircraft noise concerns

Your letters
Your letters

In the CountyTimes of April 14, you printed a rather patronising response from Juliet Kennedy, of NATS, to legitimate concerns of local residents, regarding aircraft noise from Gatwick.

In it, she postulates that changing the minimum joining point from 10 miles, to 8 miles ‘may or may not change the arrival swathe’ depending on a bunch of factors, that she implies are more complex than Sally Pavey could possibly understand.

One of these factors, ‘Military activity’, imples that the issue of National Security regularly determines the day-to-day routing of commercial aircraft.

This is a drearily familiar treatment of people whose lives are adversely affected by the effects of noise pollution from Gatwick, by people in authority, merely trotting out the party line.

The rather dismissive suggestion that there are more important factors at work, than Mrs Pavey’s concerns is as predictable, as it is depressing. Whilst Juliet Kennedy points out that the behaviour of aircraft will depend on ‘a variety of factors including, but not limited to’ the areas she mentions, it is extremely disingenuous to omit what is probably the most important factor, cost.

As any tax collector, psychologist or teacher will tell you, behaviour changes when you change the rules. And in business, that will generally be in the form of saving money. Clearly if the joining point has moved, there will be a bias towards the inside track. This will apply both to airlines trying to save fuel, and Gatwick Airport charging the airlines for routes. If the Operations Director for NATS is envisaging a balanced swathe, evenly spread, she is likely to be disappointed.

Furthermore, she goes on to point out that Gatwick has met with community groups, as if this were some sort of balanced discussion. To suggest that Gatwick are trying to understand the impact of noise, as if we were all in it together, is nonsense. Gatwick know the impact, and merely meet with community groups because it is something they need to be seen to do.

These meetings will only influence Gatwick’s decision making only to the extent that they think it will help them, in the decision on the 2nd Runway. Their interests are purely commercial, and the sooner we recognise their motivation for what it is, the better.

Chris Simmons

Broaddbridge Heath Road, Horsham

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