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Residents and campaigners furious response to Gatwicks noise claims

Sleepless nights and questioned statistics all added to the frustration over Gatwicks claims.

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Last week we published a story from Gatwick Airport about their latest stats which said they had managed to reduce their noise footprint – Gatwick’s noise footprint shrinks following initiative to modify noisy aircraft

The story had an explosive reaction from residents and campaigners all of which immediately questioned the findings.

One resident, Sue Davidson wrote:

“Imagine my delight on reading this after yet another night as I lay awake until well beyond midnight, unable to sleep due to the noise of planes continuously circling overhead before they lined up for their final approach to Gatwick.

I live in Heathfield ( population 12,000) situated 30 miles from the airport. We are under one of the two holding stacks that are located over Sussex. As anyone who lives under one of these stacks can verify, we are frequently subjected to between three and five planes circling overhead at heights of around 6/7,000 feet for hours at a stretch. Believe me, that is loud!

While I would acknowledge that much work has been done to eliminate the infamous ‘airbus whine’, this in itself has not reduced the overall level of noise. An increase in numbers, lower flights and the introduction of services by some airlines with astonishingly noisy planes (Norwegian and TUI are good examples) have all undermined any progress made on the whine ( the solution to which, was I believe, identified by a lay person).

The article states that the NMB’s raison d’etre is to ‘ improve life for those affected by noise from Gatwick’. I can only report that from the perspective of someone on the ground, there has been no improvement at all. I am not alone in my views. The NMB has recently been issued with a letter of no confidence from all its community representatives; people who represent affected communities from all over Sussex and Kent. Complaints to Gatwick itself currently stand at over 94, 000.

Those of us who have been badly affected by the airspace changes introduced (without warning or consultation) in 2014/15 would, in future, appreciate some rather more objective reporting of this issue than that which appeared in your article.”

But Sue was not alone in her response.

CAGNE, Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, released a statement in direct response:

“Those that sit outside of Gatwick’s shrinking noise footprint are those significantly impacted by Gatwick noise as well as those newly affected by the concentrated flight paths.”

“The problem with the CAA report is that they worked on an average of noise (16 hour daytime and 8 hour night over 2017 summer). Residents awaken at night or unable to use the garden during the day due to aircraft noise, do not hear noise in an average way, they hear noise as significant events whilst endeavouring to enjoy their desired tranquillity. Areas of Sussex, Kent and Surrey, outside of the footprint, report they are significantly affected by aircraft noise but are not included in the footprint as they reside outside of the LOAEL (Government noise metric of Lowest Observed Adverse Effect Level) and noise contours.”

It is true that planes are quieter, but the frequency by which they are flown has dramatically increased and this is having a significant impact on residents as is the lack of ‘best practice’ to how planes are flown to reduce noise by airlines.”

CAGNE also say that the CAA report details an increase of aircraft movements of 780.8 for 2017, a 1% increase on 770.6 in 2016 during an average day of 16-hours, and an increase of 1% from 2016 to 127.1 aircraft movements for 8 hour average at night.

They also say that while Gatwick detail why the noise footprint has shrunk, CAGNE point out that it took residents many years of letter writing to EasyJet and Gatwick to have the A320 retro fitted to reduce the noise while another factor that could illustrate why the population impacted by Gatwick has reduced is that Gatwick introduced concentrated flight paths on all departure routes in 2014 that has caused huge increases in noise complaints even though Gatwick has removed the complaint email address and phone line.

CAGNE continued saying that:

“Prior to 2014 communities had accepted dispersed flight paths, sharing the burden of Gatwick’s 24/7 noise activities, but with the introduction of concentration on departures (PRNAV for modernisation of airspace) comes single carriageway motorways above peoples homes which are unbearable especially as Gatwick continues to push for growth.

Noise complaints continue to grow to 24,658 for 2017 from 17,715 for 2016, significant increases from years when the aviation industry describes planes as ‘very noisy’ (4,791 in 2006).

The Noise Management Board is made up of predominantly community groups concerned with noise outside of the noise contours, illustrating that the footprint may be seen to have shrunk in an average way, but not according to residents of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

This month Gatwick management were asked to meet with the Aviation Minister and local MPs due to the significant increases in Gatwick’s noise impacting those that have no reprieve from aircraft noise and those that are not recognised as being significantly affected by aircraft noise.

CAGNE would like to see Gatwick address the totality of noise some communities are expected to tolerate with no respite in a fair and equitable way and produce noise metrics that actually calculate what residents actually experience in the way of noise and duly offer them true compensation for loss of wellbeing. “

Gatwick have been approached for a response.

Gatwick

Gatwick Airport to receive £8 million Government grant to protect local jobs and bounce back after coronavirus

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Crawley’s MP Henry Smith has welcomed an announcement from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that Gatwick Airport is now able to apply for a Government grant worth up to £8 million per business, helping to protect jobs and the local economy in Crawley.

The Airport and Ground Operators Support Scheme, which opened on Friday 29th January, will help Gatwick (and other commercial airports across England) to cover losses on costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, including airfield operations, contracted services such as airfield and runway maintenance, and business rate bills.

Airports and ground handlers can apply to the scheme on GOV.UK, and if successful, should receive their funding by the end of the financial year.

The financial support scheme, which follows the Government’s extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention (furlough) Scheme, is open for applications until 21st February 2021.

This investment will help support Gatwick Airport following the introduction of international travel restrictions designed to protect public health and prevent the spread of Covid-19 as the Government continues to roll out its world-leading vaccination programme.

Henry said;

“I’m pleased that Gatwick Airport will receive up to £8 million to help it protect jobs during these challenging times.

“This funding offers vital support for Gatwick Airport – which supports so many jobs and businesses in Crawley.

“The Government has provided unprecedented levels of support to protect jobs and businesses through the pandemic, and this latest support will be hugely important for helping Crawley to build back better after coronavirus.

“As Crawley MP and Chair of the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group I’ve continued to urge Government to ensure support for the industry and this will remain my call to ministers.”

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, commented;

“A thriving aviation industry has been central to the success of this country and while we recognise the testing conditions airports are currently facing as a result of the pandemic, I believe that the sector will be ready to bounce back once restrictions are lifted.

“Today’s scheme is another step in the right direction, providing vital support for an industry that is raring to get back to business, once it is safe to do so.”

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