Gatwick has spent £2.35 million on its noise insulation scheme with 730 households signing up to receive £3,600 of insulation each.
The scheme is considered one of the most innovative of its kind and forms part of the airport’s strategy to minimise noise, mitigate against its effects, and compensate those most affected.
In total, Gatwick’s has set aside £7.2 million for the three year programme that would potentially see just more than 2,000 homes insulated.
The scheme is being rolled out over three years, with five separate teams working continuously to install customised insulation across eligible homes around the airport in areas such as Lingfield, Charlwood, Burstow and Newchapel.
More than 370 homes have been fitted with insulation so far, with double glazing and acoustic loft insulation currently being manufactured for a further 150 homes, with the remainder starting production shortly.
In February 2014, Gatwick more than doubled the number of homes across Surrey, Sussex and Kent that are eligible by increasing the noise boundary by 15km at each end of the runway (See map).
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “We are acutely aware that aircraft noise is an important issue to many in our local communities and we are determined to do what we can to minimise the amount we generate, mitigate against its affects and compensate households that are impacted most.
“We are not aware of any other airport in the world offering a noise compensation scheme as generous and innovative as our acoustic insulation offer.
“Noise is a key factor in the airport expansion debate and we will not pretend that more flights will equal less noise. While it is true that Gatwick expansion will affect less than five per cent of those affected by Heathrow, we want to ensure that we help and support those most affected with this scheme, plus the direct compensation we have committed to should we be chosen for expansion.”
Gatwick is pursuing many measures to reduce aircraft noise, including: incentivising airlines by charging them less to use quieter aircraft - almost all (99%) of the aircraft currently using Gatwick are among the quietest types in operation, and employing a continuous descent approach, so aircraft use less thrust by gliding and descending at a continuous rate - generating significantly less noise.
Noise generated by the airport has been steadily reducing, as demonstrated by the land area (noise contour) covered by the loudest noise levels reducing from 94.5km² to 85.6km² in the past six years.
With a second runway, the number of people most impacted by noise at Gatwick would be around 5% of the people affected if Heathrow expands. If Gatwick builds a second runway, 4,000 of the households most affected by noise would receive annual compensation equivalent to Band A Council Tax (currently £1,000) if and when the runway becomes operational. Heathrow currently impacts more people than all of the other major European airports combined.