NMB Activity - Night Flights Consultation - Gatwick: Build Back Bigger? - TW Representation
Over the last year there has been little to comment on apart from the tranquillity that the pandemic has brought to our skies. With the end in sight of the present lockdown and the easing of restrictions leading to a return to some kind of normality, the NMB is reactivated and we have the prospect of the return of flights in more substantial numbers. In addition, Gatwick remains ambitious with its expansion plans.
Noise Management Board Activity Since the start of the pandemic early in 2020 a number of Noise Management Board (NMB) meetings were cancelled but exploratory work continued, culminating in a Virtual Workshop meeting on 10th February when a Work Plan was agreed for taking forward to the next meeting of the NMB Executive Board (NEX) on 10th March.
Click HERE or on the NMB tab above for our further comments and to see the draft Work Plan.
Gatwick’s Chief Executive, Stewart Wingate, has stated his intention to ‘Build Back Bigger’.
This is at odds with the Government’s policy to ‘Build Back Better’, with its strong emphasis on Green issues.
Gatwick’s majority shareholder, Vinci Airports SAS, a French company, have undertaken to fund fully Gatwick’s plan to covert their standby runway for regular use.
Gatwick are seeking a Development Consent Order for their plan. Continuing expansion at Gatwick, on whatever timescale, is a threat to the environment and must be challenged. The idea that such plans can be ‘sustainable’ seems optimistic indeed. And is it possible that Climate Change concerns will overtake their ambitions?
TWAANG are concerned that the Borough has not yet found a representative to join the NMB Communities Forum in spite of being invited to do so. Other Boroughs and District Councils including Tonbridge and Malling, Wealden, Mole Valley and Tandridge among others have done so, as well as Kent and Mid and West Sussex Counties.
TWAANG are Affiliated to the Town Forum which is an important link, but Tunbridge Wells should not depend on volunteers to protect its interests.
Please write to your Councillor and the Borough Council Leader to express your concern.
1. Who are TWAANG? A growing Group of residents of the town of Tunbridge Wells who are working in partnership with other action groups to limit the noise and volume of aircraft flying over our airspace. Contacts : Dr Irene Fairbairn, Chair, at email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. What’s the problem? Westerly arrivals flight paths to Gatwick were changed at the end of 2013 and now low flying airplanes (often at 4-4,500ft) fly over Tunbridge Wells day and night. This change was originally denied and no consultation with Tunbridge Wells residents took place. Government aviation policy is to avoid flight paths over densely populated areas where possible. Why is this policy not being implemented?
3. When TWAANG was formed in the Autumn of 2015 to ensure that the town’s particular concerns could be added to the Independent Arrivals Review then being undertaken for Gatwick by Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake. The deadline for responses and submissions was 30 November 2015. Up until mid October 2015 there had been no residents' voice for the town of Tunbridge Wells to add to those of the surrounding villages, all of whom have been affected by the changed flight paths.
4. Why? Tunbridge Wells is a town of 58,000 and will be expanding rapidly in the coming decade. It is at the heart of a conurbation with a current population of over 74,000. Since the change in flight paths Gatwick had received a 550% increase in complaints mostly from Tunbridge Wells. The health and wellbeing of residents is at risk through jet fuel emissions and the effects of sleep deprivation and intrusive aircraft noise when awake. An important characteristic of the town is the 300 acres of parks and commons, ‘countryside within a town’. Aircraft noise destroys the tranquility and purpose of these amenities. It may well begin to erode Tourism which contributes 30% to the town’s economy.
Gaining support from local residents.
Engagement via Gatwick's Noise Management Board with the implementation process of the Arrivals Review Report's recommendations for westerly arrivals into Gatwick.
Lobbying local MP Greg Clark and local Councillors to stand up for Tunbridge Wells.
Liaising with other pressure groups fighting the Gatwick flight paths and arguing for noise mitigation.
We have brought TWAANG's Aims and Objectives described here up to date with our Constitution:
SHORT TERM AIMS UNTIL 2022 - post Arrivals Review recommendations
In essence, full and speedy implementation of the Arrivals Review recommendations.
Wide Swathe with the earliest joining point at 8nm* on the ILS and emulating as closely as possible the pre-2013 flight path distribution.
Continuous Descent Approaches from maximum height and at approximately 3 degrees, using a Low Power Low Drag (LPLD) configuration. This would result in additional height over the Tunbridge Wells conurbation and elsewhere.
Early modification of all A320 series aircraft using Gatwick, including those of EasyJet and British Airways, to stop the whine.
To support Tunbridge Wells representation at GATCOM and to represent Tunbridge Wells on the Noise Management Board.
Reduction in numbers of night flights and implementation of the earliest joining point for night flights at 8nm (currently at 10nm).
LONGER TERM AIMS – Precision Based Navigation (PBN). 2022 ONWARDS
Influence the design of flight paths to avoid the Tunbridge Wells conurbation including schools, hospitals and heritage sites. This is in line with current government aviation policy where it is recommended that flight paths should avoid densely populated areas wherever possible and minimise the number of people affected. It is also essential to ensure that the adverse environmental impact from airplanes, most particularly aircraft noise, it is given proper consideration.
Maximum Height, 5* (high standard) Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) and the Arrivals Review recommendations with respect to stacking over water and timed arrivals etc.
The number of night flights and the impact of these on the population of the Tunbridge Wells conurbation to be minimised.