Victory in campaign to widen flight paths

MP and Council call to scrap airport plans

Anti-noise campaigners were celebrating last week after Gatwick airport agreed to bring in flight paths operating across a wider area from the end of this month.

Local groups have fought for two years to stop the constant stream of incoming aircraft at the Sussex airport being concentrated on a narrow strip of landscape.

The swathe of the flight paths has now been increased from two nautical miles to six, bringing it back in line with the dispersal that was in operation until 2013.

The decision was made at the inaugural meeting of the Noise Management Board (NMB) on June 21. The airport also recently agreed to increase the number of public representatives allowed to sit on the board from two to four.

The umbrella body was set up after being recommended by the Independent Arrivals Review in January. It includes the main aviation stakeholders and local community action groups.

Gatwick Airport Ltd issued a statement which said it ‘has been able to confirm that the proposal to widen the arrivals swathe will create a fairer and more equitable distribution of aircraft noise, more closely emulating that experienced by communities prior to 2013’.

While the move is significant, there was a word of warning from Graham Lake of the Arrivals Review team, who said: “It would be prudent, while acknowledging the very good progress made to date, to remind your readers that it’s not done until it’s done.”

Protesters are remaining cautious while further changes are awaited, not least because Gatwick had said in March that it ‘has accepted or is minded to accept all of the recommendations of the Review’.

One example of the work remaining to be done is the implementation of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA), which refers to how smoothly an aircraft descends, thereby reducing the noise it makes.

The Review has called for the CDAs to start at a higher altitude with a smoother descent, and for the airport to implement a more consistent quality threshold.

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