Following the bringing together of Heathrow + Gatwick + City airport campaigners, united against the flight path changes, we had a helpful and constructive meeting at the DfT this week with senior representatives. We will keep you posted on progress.
Permission Hearing for JR inconclusive; Judge said he will give written decision in due course.
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You've been saying these newsletters, while very welcome, have become too technical and too long. Noted!
Gatwick Obviously Not was invited to join Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on last weekend's show.
Naturally, our focus was on flight paths and this was a good opportunity to ensure another Cabinet Minister was made aware of our immediate issues that need fixing now - whatever happens in a few years time in terms of expansion.
Gatwick v Heathrow expansion starts at 42.42, Martin introduced at 48.51
The BBC tweeted out during the programme:
One of the most common phrases you use in your messages to me is that Gatwick is the 'neighbour from Hell'.
Here are what two fairly influential people have said very recently.
Another Cabinet Minister:
"Although Gatwick insisted no changes to flight paths had been made, as a result of a Freedom of Information request [by Richard Streatfeild, High Weald group], we now know that fight paths have shifted eastwards…
I feel very strongly that they [Gatwick] have not acted in an open and transparent manner"
That was the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark MP, writing to one of our supporters on June 12th this year.
(We have permission from Greg Clark and the recipient to use this letter)
Greg Clark is the Government. (Partly)
Naturally, our Government cannot support for expansion an off-shore owned business which a Cabinet Minister feels "very strongly" does not operate in an "open and transparent manner".
With the neighbour from Hell, the Devil is in the detail. I take you to clause 9.27 of Sir Howard's report:
"The promoter of the Gatwick scheme proposes that both runways should be operated in mixed-mode at the expanded airport, preventing the provision of respite through runway alternation, as would be delivered under both Heathrow schemes…"
There you have it, Ladies & Gentlemen. Tucked away on page 178. In one single sentence, Gatwick's care for its neighbours laid bare.
As most of you will know by now we are suffering the misery we are because the CAA allowed the flight paths to be changed, by narrowing where the arrivals swathe joined the final approach from 7–12 nautical miles to 10–12nm's.
A staggering 60% reduction, without even a murmur of Consultation.
Indeed this is at the core of our JR.
They say it was on safety grounds and insist that 10nm's has to be the nearest point.
Naturally safety is everyone's primary concern and indeed it is the CAA's statutory duty, so everything they do has to be on safety grounds.
We say it was to increase the amount of aircraft ('throughput') that they could cram in the air, by extending the arrivals arc. Indeed, Richard Streafeild sent in another FOI request asking the CAA to demonstrate that prior to the change, 'safety' was the driving rationale.
The result? A long series of emails from within the closed shop that is the aviation industry, yet not one single mention of the word 'safety'.
In any of them, as far as we can see.
See the archive for yourself here (PDF - 1.2Mb) or on our website.
We do wonder what may be hidden in the 3 totally redacted emails from Mark Stevens of NATS towards the bottom of the string …
Perhaps the word 'throughput'?
There is actually a single use of the 'S' word in the NATS document within the FOI but rather ironically it says:
"Aircraft shall, except for reasons of safety, not be positioned by Radar to establish on the final approach inside of this point" [ie under 10nm's]!
Unfortunately the CAA forgot to brief Sir Howard on their 'reason', who states in footnote 65 on page 181 of his report:
"Current airspace design means aircraft join fixed approach paths at around 7–12 nautical miles. Future airspace re-design currently underway will reduce this distance."
We have told the Chair and Chief Executive of the CAA about this.
We also reminded them that the official indicative join point for the 2nd runway is at 6.95nm's.
Two weeks ago I promised that whatever Davies' said, our focus would remain on the flight path issue, and it will. (See above re BBC)
We are now working very closely with campaigners from around other major airports. Indeed we sat with them on the eve of the Airports Commission publication. In every group (we have 15 signed up at the moment) there are talented, driven, focussed, funded and resourceful people, all working for the greater good to force the aviation body to start listening to those on the ground, to look below the glass floor they appear to have installed in our airspace.
We are here to stay for as long as it takes and there is so much strength in depth now, so much fury, and so much desire to achieve real change.
We're now working at two distinct levels:
It's not that hard.
We believe that if 'they' can make make such devastating changes overnight without Consultation, they can reverse them equally quickly.
We've listened to their machines plaguing our lives for long enough. Now it's time they started listening to us. Don't you agree?
After all, Her Majesty's Cabinet is.
July 8th 2015
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