Campaigners raise £15k to back Gatwick legal battle

Rob Young

Campaign group Gatwick Obviously Not is using the ‘remarkable’ success of its new fundraising initiative to support its ongoing battle with the airport.

At a protest on August 16, where about 1,000 protestors gathered to show their anger at ‘devastating’ changes to flight paths, as reported in the Times, a crowdfunding campaign was launched, from which £15,000 has already been raised.

GON chairman Martin Barraud says the campaign is crucial in funding legal action against the Civil Aviation Authority, and in drawing wider attention to the flight path issue.

He said, “We’ve had a remarkable response.

“Earlier this year, we raised £100,000 in ten minutes from a few generous, wealthy locals. The idea of this initiative is to get lots of smaller donations, and it seems to have worked.

“Everyone wants to give £100, but we’ve created incentives to encourage them to take the two minutes to actually do it.”

The majority of money raised will go towards the legal costs of GON’s judicial review against the CAA, which they claim did not carry out sufficient public consultation on flight path changes.

GON recently failed to secure permission to go to take the matter to a full hearing, but has appealed the decision.

Mr Barraud said: “We took a very considered decision when we were not granted permission. I spent a weekend with our strategic team of 15, and a strong majority voted to go ahead. Our QC is convinced he’s right. He’s not just doing it for cash, he’s convinced about the merits of the case, and is totally engaged in the process.

“Our appeal has gone in – the skeleton argument, outlining why we think we’re right. I’ve made it very clear that we might not win. But it sends an important message to the CAA. They do not want to lose this, as it would force them to consult when they don’t want to. They’re sure to be watching this like a hawk.”

Measures aimed at encouraging donations include the promise that two previous donors will give a total of £20,000 to the Pickering Cancer Drop-in Centre in Tunbridge Wells, the homeless charity St Mungo’s, and the flying eye hospital Orbis, if donations reach £50,000.

Another donor has pledged £20,000 to GON if that same target is reached. A further incentive is being provided by Martin himself, who is cycling 1,000 miles from Spain to Penshurst in ten days in October to encourage people to donate.

A CAA spokesman said:  “We note the decision by GON to appeal the High Court’s recent judgement.

“The CAA remains committed to working with industry to ensure more is done to address the issue of aviation noise and to better support the communities affected by it. We know that aircraft noise can be a significant disturbance for many people and have consistently challenged the aviation industry to be more ambitious in tackling its environmental impacts.”

Apart from the crowdfunding, GON is currently focused on ensuring the Gatwick-led review into its own airspace, carried out in response to pressure from campaigners, is fair and thorough.

“In the past Gatwick have conducted reviews but done nothing afterwards,” said Mr Barraud. “We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Having received a letter from Gatwick Chairman Sir Roy McNulty on August 21, which outlined the initial terms of the review into Gatwick flight paths, GON responded with the following ‘substantial concerns’ in a letter last Friday.

  • That it is essential the review should address all arrivals – not just westerly as proposed, which would mean the prioritisation of one set of communities over another. GON believed it had been agreed that all arrivals would be included.
  • That the appointment of the proposed review leader could lead to a lack of transparency as he already works closely with Gatwick.
  • That it is essential community representatives have full visibility of the review and are able to participate in all aspects of it, have access to all relevant material, and are fully involved in discussions.
  • That the absence of a ‘fair and equitable dispersal’ policy underpinning the terms of reference leaves too much open to the review team’s discretion. This needs to be explicitly recognised in the review’s terms of reference.
  • That it needs to be established that the review will address the detailed points of concern set out in a GON letter of August 6.

The letter concludes: “We hope you will be willing to amend the terms of reference to reflect these concerns. We remain keen to work with the review team to find solutions that address the issues our communities are facing. But we can only do so if the review is genuinely intended to achieve change and is appropriately constituted and undertaken. Without that, our groups, working with local MPs, councils and others, will have no option but to step up our campaign further until Gatwick and its partners recognise the need to take action.”

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