LETTER: Tranquil dream is shattered

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We are writing on behalf of villagers across our county (and nationwide) after recently moving to Warnham village from Horsham. We are big fans of Horsham but we found living with the sound of lorries quite intrusive.

We did extensive research into all the villages within 30 miles of Horsham. We liked the nearby village of Rusper, but felt it was ruined by the planes going overhead. We therefore shortlisted Warnham and Slinfold as these seemed to be the only untouched villages close to Horsham that were still enjoying the tranquil life that we both desired.

It took around six months before we finally found a suitable house (that we could afford) in Warnham. Quite honestly, we jumped on the opportunity when it came up and even paid what we considered a premium to secure the tranquil village life that we were so desperate for.

We did all the searches that are available to ensure that there was no plans to develop anything that would spoil the village. We reviewed all the applications for building extensions. We checked that there was no risk of flooding.

We were delighted to find that Warnham had its sensitive areas protected for the lovely old buildings and to guarantee the tranquility of what is a truly special place. We even visited Warnham on several occasions to ensure that the planes that were in the distance were not in any way intrusive. All we could hear was the chirping of the birds. It was just what we were dreaming of.

Imagine our complete horror therefore when suddenly we are woken up at 6am by planes going right over our house. For those that don’t know, this was the start of a new flight path ‘trial’ by Gatwick Airport and the National Air Traffic Service (NATS). The noise has been completely relentless since the ‘trial’ started.

We can no longer enjoy the lovely garden that we invested so much into. We can’t sleep beyond 6am and even our chickens have started to huddle up together at night now - something they only do when there is a looming storm.

We find it incredible that Gatwick and NATS can get away with ruining a village like Warnham - with no consultation and no notice. The reason for there being no consultation? They’re not required to.

Even now, Gatwick are not responding effectively to the specifics of the complaints that they are getting and not sharing any information on the precise nature of the trial and the success criteria on which the trial will be measured. After piecing together various clues, it would seem that the trial is related to making more efficient use of the runway, allowing planes to take off in both directions within one minute of each other.

It has to be expected that an airport which is ultimately controlled by a funds management company would want to increase its profits by increasing the number of flights taking off from the airport.

However, what remains unanswered is why Gatwick feel they need an additional flightpath to achieve their goal of one minute take off gaps. Gatwick are saying that they new flight path trial has nothing to do with their bid for a second runway.

However, it’s difficult to see any other reason for opening a new flight path given that Gatwick can maximise usage of the existing runway using existing flight paths (one of which is under utilised). Making better use of the existing flight paths is exactly what Gatwick was previously proposing through the London Airspace Consultation (to achieve one minute gaps on westerly take offs). Instead, they open a new route, allowing flights to go right over the villages of Rusper, Warnham and Slinfold for (apparently) no reason.

Even the design of this new flight path beggars belief. It’s as though someone at Gatwick drew a line from Gatwick to Rusper to Warnham to Slinfold to Billingshurst. It’s as though they want to use their new technology to route as many planes as possible over as many villages as possible.

Many readers will be questioning why this would all affect them. Well, NATS have stated that they are collating statistics through the trial which can be used for redesigning the airspace across the country.

Therefore, what is happening in Warnham today should be viewed as a precedent of what could happen anywhere in our national airspace. Our village life is clearly under threat from privately run airports who can apparently start new flight paths trials wherever they like, with no consultancy or notification.

We would therefore urge people who care about protecting our heritage to register their support for the people of Warnham, by completing an online petition (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-new-flight-paths-out-of-gatwick-airport).

We will only protect the lovely, historic villages and the way of life that they represent by standing up to the big, arrogant bullies that threaten them.

PHIL and LUBI DEE

Freeman Road, Warnham