London Gatwick airport responds after campaign group gives 'warning to residents' about airspace changes

London Gatwick has responded after campaign group CAGNE claimed the airport ‘gave a glimpse last week of what is planned for residents to the south of the airport (Horsham and Copthorne areas) with the government’s modernisation of airspace’ with ‘limited stakeholder access’.
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London Gatwick, along with all major airports in the UK are taking part in the programme, led by the Government, to modernise UK airspace. A map was produced to show the new planned routes and a spokesperson for CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emmissions) said: “The map is clear about what Gatwick Airport does not want residents to see, even though local authorities have been party to this process from the outset,” said CAGNE. “We had to lobby the airport to have parish and town councils included in the process.

"For many stakeholders and councillors, it is obvious they do not have the expertise to understand the full airspace ramifications of what is being proposed.”

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A London Gatwick spokesperson said: “Like all major UK airports, London Gatwick is taking part in the Government-led programme to modernise UK airspace. This work will enable aircraft to climb more quickly and take more direct routes, leading to a reduction in noise, carbon emissions and delays.

A plane takes off at London Gatwick airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251A plane takes off at London Gatwick airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251
A plane takes off at London Gatwick airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251

“All airports in the programme must follow the CAA’s Airspace Change process, which includes guidelines to ensure decision-making for airspace change is fair and transparent. London Gatwick has complied fully with the Airspace Change process so far, with public consultation being planned for the next stage.

“We have shared and considered a wide range of options with stakeholders. This is a fully transparent and public process, with the project’s progress openly documented on the CAA’s website.”

Aircraft today mostly follow outdated routes that were put in place in the 1950s. With modern navigation technology and updated airspace designs, these aircraft could climb more quickly and take more direct routes.

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CAGNE has objected throughout that those who Gatwick intend to newly fly over should be engaged from the outset and they say that the process to date has not been fit for purpose due to lack of detail and clear maps; and concentrated flight paths are hell for residents as growth is desired.

Gatwick Airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251Gatwick Airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251
Gatwick Airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251

CAGNE said: “There is no incentive for those not currently overflown now to agree to be overflown to give respite to areas that have always been under departing and arriving aircraft. And those currently overflown are unaware of this process that will see them hit by potentially 2 runway departures day and night.”

The government-led UK airspace modernisation programme is a totally separate matter to Gatwick’s Northern Runway project – the airport’s plan to bring the emergency runway into more routine use. This project is currently with the planning inspectorate.

GAGNE said: “Gatwick Airport has requested airspace for two-runway operations (despite planning not yet having been obtained from the government to rebuild the emergency runway as a 2nd runway). The changes requested include growth from the main runway through modernisation of airspace. This will increase aircraft movements on the main runway by 55,000 flights a year (Gatwick Airport Master Plan 2018), going from 285,000 flights a year (pre Covid) to 340,000 by 2033 – adding approximately 61m extra passengers to the 46m pre-Covid. With a new second runway seeking to add 101,000 extra flights a year.

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“The means to do this was made clear by the Power Point presentation at the FASIS session last week. The London Airspace South map clearly shows what CAGNE has predicted from the outset, with the green routes flying over new areas as the red routes (currently flown) conflict with the other airports that also seek unconditional growth.

“Gatwick aims to grow to the south over new areas never flown over before, to enable them maximum growth, efficiency, and reduced fuel costs, resulting in greater profits for aviation.”

A CAGNE spokesperson added: “After much lobbying, CAGNE has a meeting with the new CEO of the CAA in February and hopes to get some answers. But we are not optimistic as the CAA plays judge and jury as they will sign off the final airspace changes having approved all stages and being partly funded by the industry it serves."

CAGNE recommends residents join CAGNE to ensure they are kept up-to-speed on airspace changes and to lobby their elected members.

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