After weeks of negotiations, campaigners have reached an agreement with Gatwick over the terms of its review into controversial flight paths.
As reported in the Times last month, action group Gatwick Obviously Not had threatened to ‘step up its campaign further’ if ‘substantial concerns’ about the terms initially proposed by the airport were not addressed.
These included doubts about the transparency and impartiality of the process, its failure to consider both easterly and westerly arrivals and, crucially, the absence of ‘a fair and equitable dispersal’ policy.
But recent meetings have left campaigners optimistic that Gatwick may finally be ready to deliver the changes they have spent over a year fighting for.
GON chairman Martin Barraud said: “We sat down with review leader Bo Redeborn on September 23 to look him in the eye and see if we could do business with them.
“We went through the agenda we put forward and agreed the terms of reference we had set down.
“It was a very open process. We asked if we could record it, and he said yes without hesitation. They are looking for transparency on all levels and put-ting all documentation online.
“Mr Redeborn came across as independent and confident, and played a straight bat. He had an advisor with him who we know and trust, and we now feel we are on our way.”
The agreed terms of reference for the review, which is an independent process funded by Gatwick, include an assurance that ‘the review team will give particular attention to assessing the feasibility and implications of adopting a policy of fair and equitable dispersal which a number of campaign groups have expressed as a priority.”
Subsequent meetings with the CEOs of Gatwick,Â the Civil Aviation Authority and National Air Traffic Ser-vices have proved further cause for optimism.
Mr Barraud said: “They were very proactive about covering the cost of airspace redesign, which is a significant moment as they’re saying it needs a redesign.
“We said we wanted technical advisors, and Gatwick has agreed to fund them up to £30,000.
“It’s a complete sea change in attitude. We couldn’t get a reply from them a month ago, now we’re sitting at the same table. It may all come to nothing, but we have to take it atÂ face value for now.”
Despite the progress in the campaign, Mr Barraud is not resting on his laurels. Yesterday he began a ten-day,
1,000-mile cycle from San Sebastian to Penshurst, to raise funds for GON.
A crowdfunding initiative launched on August 16 has secured over £25,000, with an additional £40,000 pledged by previous donors if that total reaches £50,000.
Selection from the review’s amended terms of reference
- The scope of this review, in its initial phase, is westerly arrivals into Gatwick. easterly arrivals will be covered in a second phase
- The target date for completing this initial phase of the review is November 2015, but it is accepted that this end date may need to be moved back depending on the extent of consultation the review team decides is necessary.
- In considering the concerns raised by local communities, the review team willÂ give particular attention to assessing the feasibility and implications of adopting a policy of ‘fair and equitable dispersal’ of flights, which a number of campaign groups have expressed as a priority.
- Particular attention should be given to ensuring the involvement of organisations representing the local communities most affected, and communities which may be newly affected by any proposed changes, and to developing effective means of ascertaining the views of these communities more generally.