Gatwick accepts more action is needed to combat aircraft noise

MP and Council call to scrap airport plans

ONE year on from their pledge to tackle aircraft noise, Gatwick has admitted that more still has to be done in order to meet their objectives.

The admission comes in response to a report released by the Tunbridge Wells Anti Aircraft Noise Group (TWAANG) which coincided with the airport’s own Arrivals Review.

In their ‘report card’, TWAANG assed four areas in which Gatwick had promised in last year’s annual review to make improvements. It was only given a ‘pass’ for tackling the ‘whine’ from the Airbus A320 by December.

The TWAANG report notes there had been ‘significant’ progress in meeting this objective, which Gatwick had achieved by threatening airlines with penalties if they did not conform.

However, in the remaining three objectives the airport has fallen short of expectations, the organisation said.

‘No progress’ has been made in improving the angle of decent for inbound aircraft to a standard which meets established international best practice, meaning aircraft are still coming in 1,000ft too low over Tunbridge Wells.

“Very little improvement in aircraft noise over Tunbridge Wells”

There has been ‘negligible progress’ in ensuring a ‘a fair and more equitable dispersal’ of approaching aircraft – an issue which has been the subject of much controversy since flight path changes in 2013 spawned a host of protest groups in West Kent.

Finally, unplanned night arrivals, those which ‘spill over’ past 11:30pm were still ‘out of control’. The report notes that during the hour between 11.30pm and 12.29am, 44 per cent of flights in July were the result of ‘spill over’ – those which were meant to take place earlier.

Organisation Chair Irene Fairbairn said: “Gatwick’s Arrivals Review and Noise Management Board have produced a paper mountain but very little improvement in aircraft noise over Tunbridge Wells as demonstrated in our report by Ed Crutchley.”

She said the peak of arrivals at night was ‘often more busy than the daytime peak’ and this situation will get worse if expansion plans by the airport mean they use up spare nigh time capacity.

“A full capacity 24 hour operation imposes an outrageous penalty on the population beneath and should not be allowed.  Heathrow has night time restrictions, why not Gatwick?”

A spokesman for Gatwick said the airport is ‘pleased’ to see its efforts to reduce noise from the Airbus A320 is highlighted in the report, but added: “We acknowledge there is more work to do and encourage the continued collaborative approach between industry and communities.

“The establishment of our community focussed Noise Management Board (NMB), of which TWAANG is a member, is the foundation of this collaborative approach and was borne from a recommendation from the Independent Arrivals Review.

“Out of the 23 recommendations made by the Independent Arrivals Review, more than 50 per cent have so far been completed.”

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