Now we need you to send a 1-click email to East Sussex Cllr’s - by the evening of 15th January please.
Just a week ago we asked you to contact Mark Swan at the CAA if you were concerned about the proposed departure flight paths.
Your response was simply phenomenal.
Now we need you to 'second' our call to East Sussex County Council to reverse their decision to support the second runway by emailing them.
A decision taken by 1 Cllr, under delegated powers.
We've just written to them all, as below.
Your email will go to all East Sussex Cllrs, as well as all Wealden Cllrs (a very influential District within East Sussex).
The subject line is 'Save Our Skies'
Aviation loves an acronym.
By emailing the Cllr's with this in the subject box, you are saying you support what we say below.
Of course, add a message if you wish. We know many Cllr's are already very perturbed by their own Council's action so it's more a nudge than a push they need. The sands are shifting we hear.
Go for it. You have nothing to lose - except any hope of tranquility if the second runway is built.
Dear East Sussex Cllr's
Democracy, Trust, Economics and Cllr Rupert Simmons
'This Council is opposed to any further expansion of Gatwick Airport, and the concentration of flight paths, and supports a significant reduction in the number of night flights'
Wouldn't you like the opportunity to debate such a motion? If you do, you have until 3rd February to have any effect on the Howard Davies Airports Commission.
Time to stand up and be heard (while you still can be).
This evening I watched as Tunbridge Wells Borough Cllr's voted through the motion above after a stirring and thoughtful discussion that included 30 minutes from the floor.
35 for, 1 abstention, 1 against.
Democracy in action you might say. Envious?
You will be aware that we asked you all to let us know if you supported ESCC's decision, taken under delegated powers, to support the second runway, and the most damaging Option. You may even have taken a sneak look at our on-line gallery of you all. If you did you'll have seen we have not had a single vote of support.
It became clear that one of the main reasons TWBC did so is a lack of trust in Gatwick.
During the aural bombardment last summer, suffered obviously not in silence but in despair and fury, thousands across East Sussex and West Kent challenged Gatwick about what had changed.
From information secured via the FOI Act, we know this for certain: Over the last 5 years the flight path has both narrowed considerably and moved eastwards, while the amount of aircraft arriving at Gatwick has also increased dramatically.
So why would the CEO of Gatwick bother to deny any change?
The wide assumption is that they are clearing airspace to allow for the second runway. For them to admit as much would be political dynamite and commercial suicide.
Because that would mean they have inflicted what for many is life-damaging noise trauma on thousands of people over a long period, simply on the hope they are given a second runway that will only serve to enhance the landing fees accrued for an offshore company that pays no Corporation Tax, before they sell to the highest bidder in 2019.
Stewart Wingate, CEO, Gatwick, said this in 2014
"… the impression may be that something has changed, although I can assure you nothing has …"
"There has not been any trial of a 'Superhighway' on our westerly approaches and we are not planning any trials."
Your neighbours in Kent disagreed. This is Paul Carter, CBE, KCC's Leader,
"Changes in Gatwick flight paths have prompted Kent County Council to withdraw its support for a second runway at the West Sussex airport. Council leader Paul Carter said the new flight paths had made life intolerable for people …
What has changed big time is that the National Air Traffic Control have started to implement changes in flight paths …"
The boss of the CAA, Andrew Haines, admitted this, as recently as December 2014
"The air traffic controllers tried out revised vectoring practices between the hold and landing at Gatwick…Air traffic controllers were trialling, or trying out, some new vectoring choices to see what effect they would have."
'Vectoring choices'? Commonly known as the path a flight takes.
The effect? My inbox is full of despair, unhappiness and fury.
And then the coup de grâce. None other than Howard Davies - probably the most important man in British aviation's future strategy right now - accepted out loud that flight path trials have indeed been taking place;
"4.19 The Commission has noted that recent trials of revised flight paths at Gatwick have met with considerable public opposition"
One very short sentence. One very big statement. Above and below.
Do you trust Gatwick?
Cllr Simmons' main reason for choosing to support Gatwick is because he believes in its economic projections. Correct?
As part of our response to the Davies Airport Commission, we've been trying to see if he's right. We really have.
Then on 2nd January Sir John Stanley, MP, wrote to me, enclosing a copy of a speech he made in the House of Commons on the 18th December:
"I consider that Gatwick Airport Ltd has failed - and failed scandalously - to be open and transparent about the financial evaluation of its project"
In particular, in looking for clarity on how the mammoth infrastructure would be funded he could not obtain any answers from Gatwick. Davies came to his rescue, and Sir John quoted him:
"It is likely that Government will need to fund some or all of the surface access requirements"
Sir John continued his speech:
"Gatwick Airport Ltd is simply seeking a blank cheque from UK taxpayers"
"On the grounds that Gatwick Airport Ltd has totally failed to be transparent about its financial evaluation, and has concealed the public expenditure implications of the infrastructure needed for a second runway, its proposal should be rejected by the Airports Commission"
Concealment of public expenditure implications? Could his language really have been any more damning? Do you really support them still?
Cllr Simmons, in your letter to the Secretary of State of the 18th December, you mirror our appeal to him in November to support dispersal over concentration as Government policy, to avoid an environmental persecution of the minority.
In this you are closely allied with many on our database, your constituents, and your neighbouring County.
We note you conclude:
"If such changes [to flight paths] came into effect in the future, we would have to reconsider our position on a second runway at Gatwick"
You made a unilateral decision to support the second runway. It wasn't a popular one. But you stuck to it, in the face of a perfect storm, from the ground and from the air.
We admire your principles.
However you say above that if changes take place you will reconsider.
The changes have happened.
A case of future pluperfect (def: when the time being considered is already in the past) and very definitely imperfect.
The economic arguments do not stack up. Sir John (maj:18,178) was not hiding behind Parliamentary Privilege, but quoting from Howard Davies, as I have done.
I have no idea what your personal majority was.
I do know that you decided that ESCC should back the second runway with a vote of one.
Given Gatwick's failings, don't you think it right, fair and decent to now retract your decision and allow your 48 fellow Cllr's to discuss and vote on a motion similar to the one proposed to and supported by Tunbridge Wells' Cllr’s, tonight?
'East Sussex County Council is opposed to any further expansion of Gatwick Airport, and the concentration of flight paths, and supports the cessation of all night flights'
The aviation industry loves an acronym. So we've come up with a new (old) one. S.O.S.
We're going to ask our followers to email you with its definition in the subject box. By doing so, they are saying they support our request for you to reconsider.
We will be cc'd and look forward to the count, versus those who may express support for ESCC's present position on Gatwick's second runway.
Shall we say this time next week?