Gatwick Obviously

e-newsletter No.46

Our Mission Statement

Full dispersal • • • Maximum altitude • • • Continuous Descent

You couldn't make it up!

Propellers and other forms of spin - or how to poke a beehive

And you're probably one of the bees.

But before we talk about that, let's talk about Gatwick and the expansion question
Do you think Gatwick is worthy of expansion?
Does their track record suggest they should be expanded?

The 'Economic Affairs (Airports) sub-Committee' has been set up by the Prime Minister to decide on where expansion should take place.
Very, very soon.

Would you like to let them know what you think?

If so, email this address and make a reference to 'Gatwick' in the subject box. Keep it brief, and tell them why it shouldn't be Gatwick rather than why it should be Heathrow. We're working closely with the flight path campaigners from Heathrow (and City & Stansted airports) to drive home our message about 'fair and equitable dispersal'.

Back to the propellers…

In November 2014, Gatwick stated that under their revised policy only one complaint per day would be recorded per individual, whereas before every complaint counted.
Despite this interesting interpretation of data, there has been a dramatic rise in complaints since then.
What will they think of next?

According to The Times of Tunbridge Wells this week, a Gatwick Airport spokesman said:

'The increase in people affected has been influenced by an increase in aircraft movements, a change in the fleet mix from planes with propellers to small jets, and an increase in population due to Gatwick's immigration centre being included in the numbers'

See the original article here (Web link)

Judging by GON's inbox, the reaction to this statement has been an eruption of fury.
If this is truly a statement from Gatwick, we have to ask will they never get it?

According to Gatwick's own Flight Performance Team Reports, there were actually fewer aircraft movements in 2014 than in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and only a fraction more than in all years since.

For example they say in their FPT report:
'In 2014 there was an increase of about 1% in overall movements compared to 2013'

Yet we are talking about an increase in complaints from 3,270 to 25,440 for calendar years 2013 and 2014 respectively.

I don't, personally, recall very many Dakotas and their like in 2013, do you?
And I'm not even going to address blaming the immigration centre for being included.

Read the Gatwick Flight Performance Team Annual Report 2014 here (PDF - 1.6Mb)

How to complain to Gatwick
Telephone: 0800 393 070

MP speaks in the House on night flights

Tom Tugendhat MP (Tonbridge and Malling) recently asked a question about night flights in the House. Although the answer was heavily biased towards the expansion question, it all helps to add pressure to the debate over night flights and their devastating effect on the populace.

See the House session here (Web link)

Uniting the Campaign groups

As you may know, there is a formal Review going on into all arrivals into Gatwick - secured as a result of your actions over the last 18 months or so, and our pressure on Sir John Major.
The former PM is Chair of the Advisory Board to Gatwick’s biggest shareholder, GIP.

GON recently invited all 6 active groups to the east of Gatwick to work under a single banner for the sole purpose of the Review, but without compromising the individual identity or great work of any of those groups.

I am delighted to say that all responded positively and this working collective is now simply known as the 'Gatwick Westerly Arrivals Groups'

Another demonstration if one were needed of the unity that exists out here to restore tranquillity to your skies.


MP asks Aviation Minister not to concentrate

In a recent letter to Robert Goodwill, Aviation Minister, the MP for Reigate, Crispin Blunt asked him to ensure that dispersal (our Holy Grail, of course) is implemented. Indeed he went as far as to say that 'noise ghettos' (an expression created by GON) must be avoided.

We have very recently seen the Minister's reply, to which Mr Blunt commented:

"In his response, the Minister agreed that "It is extremely important that we listen to the concerns of communities on these matter" and that there is a perception that current guidance "disincentivises respite in all but exceptional cases". Mr Goodwill gave an assurance that the Government will consider the issues raised and the need for appropriate guidance to achieve "solutions which are locally suitable when airspace changes must be made".

"I am pleased that Ministers have recognised that poor implementation of this flight technology can have a hugely negative impact on local communities affected by concentrated and persistent aircraft noise. The Government's willingness to consider new guidance opens up the possibility of sharing the burden of noise through greater dispersal and use of respites. I stand ready to engage with Government to ensure we get fit-for-purpose guidance."

They really are worth a read.
Read them below or here (Crispin Blunt's letter - PDF - 673kb)
and here (Robert Goodwill's reply - PDF - 566kb)

The all-airports group, in which GON plays a significant role, is meeting the Minister on November 18th.

Chocks away.

Martin Barraud
Gatwick Obviously Not

Back-up information

The 6 groups that presently make up GWAG are:

LGVS Langton Green Village Society
Cagne.East Campaign Against Noise Emissions.East
SPAG Speldhurst Action Group
GON Gatwick Obviously Not
ESCCAN East Sussex Communities for the Control of Air Noise
TWAANG Tunbridge Wells Anti Aircraft Noise Group

The Crispin Blunt letter

Member of Parliament for Reigate


Mr Robert Goodwill
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road
London. SW1P 4DR

1st October 2015

Dear Robert

l wrote to you last November regarding the increase in aircraft noise disturbance arising from the implementation of performance-based navigation (PBN) or precision-area navigation (PR-NAV) departure routes at Gatwick Airport.

Since then, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has indeed undertaken a Post Implementation Review of the changes and, despite delays, has made a recommendation to change the westerly departure which was straying most from the Noise Preferential Route (NPR) and newly affecting the populated areas of south Reigate and Redhill in my constituency. I am hopeful that when this route is changed there will be some relief for those who have been affected outside the NPR. However. whilst there may be a degree of dispersal due to vectoring of aircraft once they have reached 4.000 feet, the route is likely to remain highly concentrated, as are easterly departures from Gatwick.

I therefore remain very concerned about the impact of PBN routes which risk unremitting noise for those living, working or studying beneath them. Since aviation will gradually embrace PBN technology globally, I would appreciate an update on how the Government is addressing public concerns about associated airspace changes leading to concentrated flight paths. Unless they are designed in a sensitive and intelligent way, they have the potential to cause a constant noise nuisance for people beneath them.

In particular, what policy guidance is the Government planning to provide to ensure that PBN is implemented in a way that reduces concentration and maximises dispersal within NPRs, and creates multiple arrival and departure routes, and thereby respites, to avoid the creation of 'noise ghettos'?

I am concerned that current policy, as set out in the Aviation Policy Framework of 2013, is inadequate because it favours concentration "in most circumstances" and needs revisiting and/or further clarification.

On Airspace, the Aviation Policy Framework says: "Consistent with its overall policy to limit and where possible reduce the number of people adversely affected by aircraft noise, the Government believes that, in most circumstances, it is desirable to concentrate aircraft along the fewest possible number of specified routes in the vicinity of airports and that these routes should avoid densely populated areas as far as possible."(3.3l)

Whilst a concentrated flight path may "reduce the number of people adversely affected by aircraft noise", it can increase the number of people significantly impacted by relentless noise. Airspace changes should assess performance against the Policy Framework's overall objective on noise to "limit and where possible reduce the number of people in the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise".

The statement that "It is desirable to concentrate aircraft along the fewest possible number of specified routes" seems to caution against as the desirability of having as many specified routes as is practical to ensure adequate dispersal and respite within NPRs.

Paragraph 3.32 seems to open the possibility for local communities to have a say on respite options and signals "further guidance on these airspace matters … when the Department for Transport updates its guidance to the CAA on environmental objectives relating to the exercise of its air navigation functions". Has this guidance been issued and does it provide for public consultation on proposed changes and respite options prior to implementation?"

Without a firm basis in guidance, I believe that the CAA, NATS and airports will only propose and implement rigid, highly concentrated flight paths, as we have seen at Gatwick. You will appreciate that they rely upon Government policy to steer them on matters of public concern and as a secure legal basis for acting and I therefore look forward to hearing about your plans in this important policy area.

Crispin Blunt

The Minister's reply

From the Parliamentary
Under Secretary of State
Robert Goodwill MP

Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road

30 October 2015

Crispin Blunt MP
House of Commons

Dear Crispin

Thank you for your letter of 1 October, about aircraft noise and performance-based navigation (PBN) at Gatwick Airport.

Your letter reflects the issues well and the Government recognises them. We are aware that while the technology presents opportunities, it also poses challenges in how it can be implemented responsibly. It is extremely important that we listen to the concerns of communities on these matters so that the technology can deliver all of the benefits it can offer. This includes not just greater efficiency, safety, and resilience in the sector, but also quicker journeys and fewer delays for passengers and environmental beneits such as fewer emissions and noise benefits. In terms of noise, PBN offers an opportunity, through more precise navigation, for aircraft to generate less noise for people on the ground because planes can be directed away from populated areas, and can ascend quicker.

As you say, the Aviation Policy Framework states that the Government believes that in most circumstances, it is desirable to concentrate aircraft along the fewest possible number of specified routes. It goes on to say that there should be the opportunity for respite routes to be considered, where appropriate: "However, in certain circumstances, such as where there is intensive use of certain routes, and following engagement with local communities, it may be appropriate to explore options for respite which share noise between communities on an equitable basis". I am aware that there is a perception that this disincentivises respite in all but exceptional circumstances.

I agree that we must think about this carefully. Officials are currently considering some of the issues you have raised and are working with the Civil Aviation Authority to consider any further guidance which may be appropriate.

We are keen to ensure that the right options are explored and that communities can play a role in finding solutions which are locally suitable when airspace changes must be made.

I hope you have found this response helpful.

Yours sincerely


Complaints to Gatwick

July 2013 – June 2014 12,881
July 2014 – June 2015 22,612

Complaints – calendar years

2006 5,378
2007 unable to source
2008 unable to source
2009 unable to source
2010 5,443
2011 3,018
2012 2,366
2013 3,270
2014 25,440

Gatwick Flight Performance Team - Aircraft Movements by Year, 2006-2014

Gatwick Flight Performance Team - Individual Callers & Complaint Numbers, 2010-2014

November 14th 2015

This newsletter goes out to well over 2,000 people on our database which grows by the day. Consequently, this may mean that it ends up in your "spam", as our first newsletter did for some. Please be sure to mark up anything from us as "not spam" to prevent that.
You can view all our Newsletters in your web browser here: 

Unsubscribe me from this list

View this mailing in your web browser