Clear scope to reduce Gatwick plane noise, says independent report

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An independent report into noise from planes arriving at Gatwick has stated ‘it is clear that there is scope for the improvement of the present situation’.

The 95-page Gatwick Airport Independent Arrivals Review was published today (Thursday January 28) following a four month consultation.

Airport bosses and campaign groups against expanding Gatwick have welcomed its recommendation for addressing the noise issue for local communities.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, called on Gatwick Airport Limited and its air traffic control provider NATS to implement the recommendations as soon as possible. He said: “I’m not sure it will please everybody because the fact is that aircraft noise has caused over the last few years immense anger and annoyance and this report contains a number of proposals which we will need to study in detail - whether they will solve the problem remains to be seen.”

Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions chairman Sally Pavey said: “I welcome the report but I find it very very disappointing that the review team have ignored specific issues that West Sussex have with arrivals and they at no time gave residents a map to indicate their intetions of moving the joining point of the runway.”

She said the report recommended the point where planes turn into their final descent into the airport be moved up to four miles closer to its runway.

She said the change would worsen plane noise for elevated rural villages Rowhook, Warnham and Slinfold in particular.

A Gatwick Airport statement said many of the report’s recommendations would be running within a year.

A spokesman said: “Gatwick Airport has welcomed the report and its recommendations and will examine the report’s conclusions with a view to proceeding with as many of them as possible in the shortest practicable time.

“In particular, Gatwick has welcomed the proposal for the establishment of a noise management board as the first step in this process. The board is intended to include representatives from Gatwick Airport, the CAA, NATS, elected council members and residents’ representatives, and would operate under an independent chair.”

Bo Redeborn said: “The review team has been struck by the positive and constructive inputs to the study by all those involved, and it is our strong hope and belief that this report will provide a basis on which all concerned can move forward in that spirit to deliver a significantly better situation for the residents living close to the airport’s flight paths.

“We wish to record our sincere thanks to the many individuals and organisations that have contributed their views to permit the development of these findings and recommendations.”

Gatwick Airport Chairman Sir Roy McNulty said: “I am grateful to Bo and Graham for their Report and the way they have approached the task. As an airport we recognise our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the noise impact on local people - in particular, those people who are most affected. That is why we commissioned an independent review last summer looking at aircraft arrivals to see what more can be done. While the number of people significantly affected by noise at Gatwick is relatively low for an airport of its size, we want to improve further.

“This report sets out 23 practical steps - from holding planes longer over the sea, to improved use of continuous descent approaches and increased dispersal of arrivals. There is no silver bullet that will ever eliminate the problem of aircraft noise but taken together I believe that these measures can make a real difference. Airports have to demonstrate that impacts on their local communities have been fully taken into account, and we have been encouraged by and benefitted from the constructive engagement of local groups in this review. “We want to act as soon as possible on these recommendations so people can start to feel the difference but we cannot do so alone. We will be taking forward urgent discussions with the CAA and NATS on a timetable for change. In the meantime it is our intention to move ahead with establishing a Noise Board with an Independent Chair.”

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate, said: “We welcome the conclusions of this review and the recommendations that have been put forward. In aggregate, I am sure that they will allow for reduction in the noise impacts of our arrivals traffic, which I am sure will be welcomed by our local community.

“Over the next few weeks we’ll be analysing the conclusions of the Review together with our aviation partners so as to arrive at an action plan that will, I hope, allow for the implementation of as many of the recommendations as possible in as short a time as can be practically managed.”

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