The following letter has been sent to Horsham MP Francis Maude.
Dear Mr Maude
Now that the Gatwick flight path trial has been going for several weeks I offer my observations as both a private resident and as Rector of the church and congregation of Rusper.
Planes are currently going over both the church and the Rectory. The noise is not at an acceptable level even when double glazed windows are closed. When windows are of necessity open in the summer the level of noise is punishing. Conversation with people in the same room as oneself has to be raised to shouting.
In church, even with the doors shut, members complain that even though I am trained to project my voice and amplification is used by readers they cannot hear everything that is said.
It is not appropriate for me to pause during the sacred words of the liturgy in order to let a plane pass before continuing or repeating myself, but I am increasingly being forced to do so.
Nuanced communication in preaching is compromised by having to contend against unprecedented levels of noise the volume and intensity of which is a cause of stress.
Burials take place in the open air. When one is trying to minister gently to fragile people it does not help to be obliged to bawl the words of prayers at them.
Our PCC fears for the long term effects on the fabric of our listed building of historical interest.
I am mindful that Gatwick has brought prosperity to this part of Sussex, but it should not be at the cost of quality of life. I urge an approach that puts environmental balance and mental wellbeing at the heart of decision making when the long term effects are irreversible.
I feel too, and I thought that Government policy was now tending to recognise, that the economic benefits are best shared over the North/South divide.
Before the balance of prosperity overbalances disastrously, let airports in Northern cities reap the benefit of investment and expansion – Gatwick’s big enough!
I look forward to your response to these concerns.
The Rev NICHOLAS A.FLINT SCP
Rector of Rusper and Colgate, Rusper Rectory, Rusper