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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.



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 Express team gives cash boost to Crawley charity

The Gatwick Express team has given a local charity a cash boost following a number of staff fundraising initiatives in recent months.



Maria Cook, Chair of Autism Support Crawley (left) takes delivery of a 'rail ticket cheque' from Gatwick Express managers

Autism Support Crawley, which supports children and adults on the autistic spectrum, has been given a generous donation of £1,931.15 thanks to kind-hearted Gatwick Express staff who have taken part in a series of activities at Gatwick Airport Station, including cake sales, a Christmas jumper competition and bucket appeals.

Station staff were delighted to be able to hand over a cheque to Autism Support Crawley on Tuesday, May 21 to the chairperson of the charity, Maria Cook.

She said:

“We are thrilled to receive such wonderful support from everyone at Gatwick Express.

“Their response to the voluntary work that we do for over 1,200 families across Sussex and Surrey is overwhelming. This will go a long way in helping us to continue to support families and work with lots of different professions to improve understanding, acceptance and inclusion in society,”she added.

Gatwick Express staff were inspired to support the charity after hosting a group from Autism Support Crawley for a ‘Try a Train’ event, during which autistic young people and adults were shown around the station to help them become more familiar and confident when travelling by train, as well as how to buy tickets to support more independent travel.

Gatwick area station manager David Stronell said:

“We’re really proud of all the work we have done to help the charity. The whole station has been involved in the fundraising.

“Since we started supporting the charity, it has sparked a lot of conversations and a lot of staff have talked about having children on the autistic spectrum. It has brought us all together and got people opening up about autism, which in turn has raised awareness for us all,” said David.

Charity trustee, member and service user Charlotte Gover said:

“The amazing donation from Gatwick Express will support so many of our families by enabling us to continue to provide information sessions, conferences, coffee mornings, evening meetings and much needed inclusive family events.”

Staff at Gatwick are now gearing up for their next fundraising events so watch this space!

This month also marks the 35th birthday of Gatwick Express and there have been plenty of activities going on to celebrate the occasion.

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