Aircraft noise pollution can have an intensely negative impact on residents' quality of life and has been a constant focus in recent years.
It is a particular concern to residents when changes to flight paths and patterns are considered given the risk that noise is increased over communities already impacted or the envelope widened over new communities.
Such changes are subject to consultation and it is possible that sensible planning can help, for example a reduction in “holding patterns” can reduce aircraft noise as well as carbon. Similarly it is important that the technology that has already led to quieter engines on some models continues to be encouraged and rolled-out.
All aircraft flying pattern consultations are complex and it is critical that stakeholders can be clear on implications and residents are able to participate to make their feeling known.
I recently met representatives of CAGNE and local communities who are concerned about aircraft noise. Following this I met last month Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport. Mr Wingate stressed that the consultation was a proper CAA process and ultimately local aircraft routing depended not just on Gatwick but airports across the south - notably Heathrow. He was keen to provide reassurance that there is no agenda to shift the “joining point” of aircraft flying into Gatwick - a change which could have a significant impact locally.
Gatwick have offered a follow-up meeting to discuss specifically the issue of airspace which I intend to take up.
I am keen that local stakeholders maintain a close eye and strong participation in what is a long process as it evolves.
Christian Mitchell (the County Councillor representing many of the communities to the west of Gatwick) and I recently met virtually with the Leader of West Sussex County Council Cllr Paul Marshall and the cabinet member for support services and economic development Steve Waight, to discuss specifically the CAA’s modernisation of airspace consultation; the CAA’s third stage consultation; the potential impact on local communities; and how to ensure information is shared and concerns raised effectively through the consultation process.
Gatwick continue to undertake work on a new Route 4, in line with CAA guidance and requirements and, we understand, are currently intending to consult on the new Route 4 options in June 2023.
Gatwick is responsible for the redesign of the airport’s airspace and all changes will be overseen by the CAA. Gatwick had indicated they are seeking to publicly consult on the FASI-S routes in 2024; however, there is no timetable for the final decision being made by CAA.
This work is highly technical and complex. It is absolutely critical that there are “no surprises”: that quality information which clearly sets out proposals and their impacts are shared. Local stakeholders and residents must be able to scrutinise effectively and opportunity for us all to make our voices heard.
The leader of the County Council and I will be writing separately to Gatwick Airport reminding them of their commitments and the need for openness and transparency throughout what is likely to be an extended period. We are determined to ensure we have the information needed to properly scrutinise any adverse impact on communities and share the details with residents.
As information becomes available I intend to work with local Councillors and Parishes to ensure that local residents are kept fully up to speed and can engage.