Flight path switch will lead to quieter skies for Tunbridge Wells

The Belvedere Public Consultation

Members of the Tunbridge Wells Anti Aircraft Noise Group (TWAANG) have their ‘fingers crossed’ that plans to change the final aircraft approach to Gatwick will be implemented by the weekend.

The group – that was set up a year ago to represent Tunbridge Wells – believe shifting the flight path westwards, away from Tunbridge Wells, could reduce aircraft noise for up to 80,000 residents.

It is one of 23 recommendations within the Independent Review of Arrivals that was concluded at the start of the year.

Commissioning the review came in response to growing discontent over Gatwick’s extension to the minimum distance of its final approach flight paths in 2013. This resulted in the busiest traffic corridor passing directly over the town and surrounding areas, causing over 100,000 more people to be affected by aircraft noise, and leading to a string of campaign groups taking action against the airport.

A separate report by TWAANG – which looks at flights to Gatwick between 2013-2015 – found the average descent angle over Tunbridge Wells to be 1.7 degrees, almost half the 3 degrees recommended by international best practice.

By following standard guidelines, Gatwick could reduce the noise levels residents experience by five decibels, the report adds. It is believed that moving the approaching flight path westwards will help to deliver this by shortening the distance used by planes coming into land, forcing a steeper rate of decent.

A spokesman for TWAANG said: “We have learned that the promised change to the final approach will happen this coming weekend.

“Our report exposes in detail what people are complaining about regarding flight patterns over the town.

“These include excessively low altitudes, too much concentration of flight paths, planes that follow each other within minutes, and air traffic over areas that were previously left quiet.

“TWAANG are represented on the new Noise Management Board (NMB) at Gatwick, and intend to use this ongoing work alongside various other efforts to confront the airport with solid facts about what the local population is going through.”

A spokesman for Gatwick welcomed TWAANG’s input at the Noise Management Board, but could not guarantee the change will be made as soon as this weekend.

He said: “We are certainly working towards the implementation of the review and good progress is being made.

“So far, five of the 23 recommendations have been made, however some take longer as they require the input of other organisations.”

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