Gatwick campaigners say town’s voice must be heard

MP and Council call to scrap airport plans

Air flight campaigners representing Tunbridge Wells have called on their MP, Greg Clark, to ensure the town is well represented in a new initiative to combat flight noise.

The establishment of a Noise Management Board was one of the recommendations made in the recently published Arrivals Review, with an aim of fostering closer cooperation between Gatwick and surrounding communities. However, members of the Tunbridge Wells Anti Aircraft Noise Group (TWAANG), which was established to give a voice to the town last year, are worried that one of the areas most affected by overhead flights will be ignored.

One of the main problems of the new initiative, group Chair Dr Irene Fairburn believes, is the limited representation on offer for community groups affected by aircraft noise. Current plans for the board, which is to be inaugurated this summer, only allocate two places to community representatives, one east and the other west of Gatwick.

In a letter to Mr Clark, Dr Fairburn said: “The Tunbridge Wells conurbation is the biggest concentration of population in the area and it was reported to have been the main source of complaints following the 2013 changes to arrivals routes.

“It would be totally wrong for this densely populated area to not have a representative alongside the more rural areas and we ask you to ensure this.”

She goes on to suggest the number of community representatives is expanded to four, so the concerns of both rural and more urban residents are voiced.

The Noise Management Board has the long-term goal of influencing the next major shift in aircraft flight paths, which is scheduled to be implemented by 2022. However, despite being several years away, the process has already begun and Dr Fairburn said it was vital for the town to have its say.

She added: “It is important for a town which relies very heavily on tourism and its general ambience to be heard.”

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