Wealden worries about planes ‘superhighway’

Plane 'superhighway' plans
Plane 'superhighway' plans

A 500 metre-wide, sky ‘superhighway’ for aircraft arriving at Gatwick could see more than 350 planes a day overfly homes from the East Sussex coast via Mayfield, Rotherfield and Crowborough, campaigners claim.

The plan will place an ‘intolerable burden’ on local families according to Dominic Nevill, from Crowborough, who represents East Sussex Communities for the Control of Air Noise (ESCCN).

He told the Express: “Government policy led by the EU means the postwar 10.5 mile incoming routes must be replaced by a single pathway. Gatwick’s consultation does not display exact routes but airport bosses say they will take note of all responses.

“We hope that ESCC has made suitable representation on behalf of residents about the biggest route shake-up for 50 years? And what - if any - would be the level of compensation offered to householders who’ll see homes devalued by 25 per cent? What impact will this have on health and air pollution? We would be delighted to hear from any source; the council or Gatwick itself.”

Gatwick confirmed the scheme at a meeting called by ESCNN in Crowborough on Monday.

At the same time, a Heathfield-based campaign group led by Elizabeth Peterken from Waldron is urging residents to respond to the consultation, contact MPs and local councillors.

Elizabeth said: “Trials already make life intolerable for local families. The consultation process that Gatwick offers is very complex, subjective and lengthy - this is a matter Gatwick and authorities hope to push through without too much public resistance and I am appalled at the lack of consultation regarding the environment for future generations.”

She has been in touch with Wealden MP Charles Hendry who told her: “There has been no change to any flight paths over Wealden. Gatwick have opened a consultation aimed at specific areas below 4,000ft where they expect impacts to be seen. Crowborough and surrounding areas are not included in areas identified - aircraft in these areas will be higher than 4000ft.”

County’s GatCom representative and local councillor Rupert Simmons explained: “Flight path trials are a part of a UK-wide future airspace strategy. Routes allowing aircraft to climb and descend more quickly will reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise during overflying. Consideration is also being given to an offshore - holding pattern.”

Grant Payne, from Gatwick, said: “Our flight analysis team confirm there is no current trial taking place that would affect that area.

“With growing passenger numbers more capacity being used and more flights at peak times, there are more flights over the area in question.

“However we are currently consulting on the Future Airspace Strategy that, if given the go-ahead, would significantly reduce arrival traffic over Heathfield.”

His comments were endorsed by Rupert Simmons.