Gatwick Obviously

e-newsletter No.73

Our Mission Statement

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


We have decided that the JR has more than done its job, and it is time to cease the process.

"You have won in all but law…This is therefore both a factual and practical result which has been achieved by the JR and subsequent negotiations, which would never otherwise have been obtained had the JR not been pursued. You have achieved all that you set out to achieve and more, in effect."
John Steel, QC
39 Essex Chambers

John Steel QC and James Potts, Barrister were GON's Counsel in the Judicial Review.

Joint Statement from Martin Barraud and the CAA, Plaintiff and Defendant

W I T H O U T  P R E J U D I C E



Mr Martin Barraud has today withdrawn his application for a judicial review against the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The judicial review concerned an alleged failure by the CAA to ensure appropriate consultation was carried out in relation to changes in air traffic control procedures for aircraft arriving at Gatwick Airport from the east. The effect of those changes, which took place in 2013, was to concentrate aircraft, and therefore aircraft noise, over certain communities in west Kent.

Permission to apply for judicial review was initially refused by the High Court but the Court of Appeal subsequently overturned that decision and further decided that the substantive claim should remain in the Court of Appeal. The court proceedings have been placed on hold since December 2015.


Commenting on his withdrawal of the judicial review, Martin Barraud said:

"Since we commenced these judicial review proceedings :

"This judicial review has done its job. There is still much work to do to make sure that Gatwick and air traffic control distribute aircraft fairly so that no one suffers intolerable noise, but restoring the pre-2013 air traffic control procedures should permit that to happen and is all we could have achieved via the courts. The regulatory change to be proposed by the Department of Transport will help make sure that no other community suffers the dramatic increase in noise that we experienced without proper consultation. More broadly we believe the government, the CAA and the industry are now far more aware of the need for communities to be fully involved in any change in flight paths or air traffic control procedures that might increase aircraft noise. Regulation and governance of the noise impact of the aviation industry still needs fundamental reform, but these changes are important steps in the right direction."


"We confirm that Mr Barraud has withdrawn his judicial review proceedings concerning the process followed by the CAA in respect of aircraft arriving at Gatwick airport from the east.

The CAA is very aware of the impact that aviation noise can have and is mindful of the need for local communities to have a fair say when changes to the structure of airspace are proposed. To that end we have undertaken a significant amount of work to propose, where we can, the opportunity for communities to participate in this process. We expect to see full implementation of these proposals by the end of 2017."

Link to this Joint Statement on the CAA's website:

Since February 2015, many of you have donated to help us fund a Judicial Review in my name versus the CAA (with NATS, DfT and Gatwick as Interested Parties in the Defence).

I am truly grateful to you for your wonderful support to get us this far. It is my name on the block and I always fully understood that from Day 1.

I did not lightly take on the aviation industry and government and could only do so knowing so many of you were beside me in both word and deed.

Thank you.

At the second time of asking, after going to Appeal, we won the formal Permission needed to proceed to the final Substantive hearing. Fewer than 16% reach this stage. The judge who granted us that Permission also reserved the final hearing for his own Court of Appeal, to help establish the rules for airports beyond Gatwick.
In other words, a test case.

The CAA has said that we should not underestimate the influence we have had on the airspace process.

Around a year ago we agreed with the CAA and IP's for the Defence to Stay the JR process. The second stay ended on December 18th. With the guidance of several close advisers, I had to decide whether it was justified to expend/risk very substantial funds to now 'finish the process'.

These advisers include both my QC, and the 15-strong GON Strategic team who have guided me so incredibly well over the last 30 months.

Below there is an unequivocal message from our QC, John Steel.

(At this point I would like to pay a personal tribute to John Steel QC and James Potts, Barrister. Never before I have experienced such absolute dedication to the cause from a legal team. We have had numerous calls over the weekend or late into the night, and John always made himself available, often without the clock ticking, to ensure we were on track - even once when he was in the middle of a dinner party in Italy! You and I were extremely fortunate to have the UK's premier aviation QC acting for us, with James. The action of the Appeal judge in reserving the Final Hearing for his own Court, the second highest in the land, entirely justifies John's unwavering belief in our case.)

The Joint Statement above, agreed with the CAA, includes a clear reference to new air space change proposals from the industry to ensure what we went through will never be inflicted on anybody without proper consultation; the very heart of our reason for raising the JR.


Martin Barraud
Gatwick Obviously Not


The core purpose of the JR was to force a Consultation on the changes to our airspace that took place in 2013. The CAA denied it was an "airspace change" and it is around that issue that the case centered.

The purpose of the stay was to allow us to see whether actions then (and now) being taken by Gatwick airport, the Department of Transport and the CAA itself, many of them in response to the JR, satisfactorily dealt with the issues the JR would have addressed.

We had to consider very carefully whether to continue with the full JR to its final, Substantive Hearing or to withdraw it.

I would like to reassure you that your donation, and the wider efforts you've made, have made a huge difference, even if we're only just beginning to see the fruits of all the work that's been done.

When we launched the JR we had two objectives:

1 - To force Gatwick to consult on - and then, we hoped, reverse - the change it had imposed on us. Specifically, we wanted Gatwick to re-widen the arrivals joining point that it had narrowed in 2013 with such a devastating impact on so many.

2 - To make sure that a similar change could never happen again, either to us or to anyone else.

An enormous amount has happened since then.

In relation to point 1, Gatwick's Arrivals Review recommended re-widening the arrivals join point almost back to the pre 2013 position, and that change (the re-widening of the join point) has now been implemented.

However we do not believe that Gatwick and air traffic control are yet dispersing aircraft over the whole of the re-widened swathe as much as they could or should do, by some considerable margin. There is less aircraft concentration, but we are keeping up the pressure for them to do much more via several channels including the Noise Management Board.

From a legal point of view, the change we might have secured via a JR, if we had won it, has been achieved.

On point 2, the government will be publishing a consultation document in the New Year which will propose the creation of a new type of airspace change designed to catch exactly the sort of thing the happened to us.

In future airports will be required to consult communities fully, and obtain the CAA's permission, before they can make the sort of change Gatwick imposed on us.
We understand this is the first change in the definition of an airspace change for many decades, so it is no small achievement.
The JR has also contributed to a lot of other positive change in the way communities are involved in airspace issues. For example, we now sit on a new Noise Management Board at Gatwick, alongside the airport, airlines and air traffic control, focusing on what else can be done to reduce noise.

At a national level the government will soon be announcing new engagement arrangements with a full role for community groups. I don't want to give the impression that all our issues have been resolved. They certainly haven't, and we will continue to work hard to reduce noise, improve the way the aviation industry is regulated and make sure the CAA and the government do their jobs properly.

But I do think the JR has done its job now. Proceeding further with it would involve significant additional costs, given the case would go to the Court of Appeal, for very little, if any, additional benefit. The advice from our QC backs that up. He wrote to me recently saying: "I have no doubt that you should seek to settle the claim and withdraw…given that you have in fact achieved almost all that you could achieve if you continued to litigate the claim in the Court of Appeal."

Thank you so much for your donation; it has already made a real difference and we believe there is more to come. It will also make a real difference for other communities who might have been hit by something similar, but will now have a full voice in any similar changes.

From our Barrister, John Steel QC:


You have asked my advice as to whether it is in your best interests to continue to litigate the claim in the Court of Appeal or to settle the case at this stage and withdraw the claim.

I have no doubt that you should seek to settle the claim and withdraw on terms as to costs, given that you have in fact achieved almost all that you could achieve if you continued to litigate the claim in the Court of Appeal. You have won in all but law.

The one matter that would be able to be obtained is a clear judgment of the Court of Appeal, which would affect all airports in England and Wales and probably the UK as a whole, namely whether a permanent change in vectoring practices at low level by ATCs can in law and here in fact does amount to an airspace change within the meaning of the Secretary of State's Directions and Guidance to the CAA. If so, there would be a duty on the CAA to ensure that the airspace change proposer consults in accordance with its policy and the Direction. This would trigger the full consultation procedure.

What is important never to forget is that this in no way guarantees the substantive or factual outcome of the consultation which you seek, namely to return to the status quo ante with the spread of a/c joining the final approach into Gatwick on its westerly runway to be over some 6nm (as previously was the case), and instead of a significantly narrower swathe. This would be only one of a number of different options which the CAA would consider putting forward during such consultation. The subsequent Helios Report and Arrivals Review is substantially in your favour too - on paper as this depends on what is put into practice. This is therefore both a factual and practical result which has been achieved by the JR and subsequent negotiations, which would never otherwise have been obtained had the JR not been pursued. You have achieved all that you set out to achieve and more, in effect.

In the event that there is a further error of law by the CAA or DfT, you would be entitled to litigate in a new action what amounts to an airspace change. The judgment at first instance was in favour of the CAA and therefore is normally to be given some weight. Given that permission to appeal has been granted to hear the matter afresh in the Court of Appeal and that it is recognised to raise a point of national importance (which is a significant achievement in itself), the points of law raised in the case will be able to be argued afresh if the matter arises again. This means that it is able to be argued that the case has not been won or lost but a neutral position has been achieved, in particular due to the conclusions of the Helios Report and Arrivals Review. It is to be recalled that the case was expressly reserved by the Court of Appeal judge to himself.

It is highly likely that the case will result in significant changes to the airspace change procedure process and that government policy and CAA policy towards low level P-RNAV procedures (which cause aircraft in effect to fly along narrow tracks) will also be reviewed. This is a significant achievement in itself which would not otherwise have been possible.

Please get back to me if I can be of further assistance.

John Steel QC

81 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1DD

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December 20th 2016

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