Aviation body launches public engagement exercise into airspace growth - London Gatwick campaign group claims it's being done 'behind closed doors'

A campaign group is claiming aviation industry body ACOG are ‘progressing airspace growth for Gatwick behind closed doors’ despite a public engagement exercise being launched this week.
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CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions) sent a ‘warning to residents’ that ‘those currently overflown and those not overflown in the south.’

A CAGNE spokesperson said: “Areas in the constituency of Sir Jeremy Quin, Mims Davies and Nus Ghani will be horrified to learn that these members of parliament are aware of the aviation industry body, ACOG, that are progressing airspace growth for Gatwick behind closed doors.

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“With limited stakeholder access, Sussex Gatwick Airport gave a glimpse of what is planned for residents to the south of the airport (Horsham and Copthorne areas) with the government’s modernisation of airspace.”

A British Airways flight lands at London Gatwick airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251A British Airways flight lands at London Gatwick airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251
A British Airways flight lands at London Gatwick airport. Pic S Robards SR2108251

ACOG is required by the CAA to engage on key aspects of the Masterplan before the participating airports - including London Gatwick - and NATS carry out formal consultations on their proposed changes. The purpose of ACOG’s engagement exercise is to explain in general terms the approach to coordinating the airspace change proposals required to deliver airspace modernisation in the London Airspace South portion of the Masterplan, and to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to provide feedback on the approach.

The engagement exercise - which runs from February 12 to March 24 - does not include detailed information about the options for new route designs or airspace structures since these are still being developed by the airports and NATS, following the CAA’s airspace change process.

A spokesperson from ACOG said: “Airspace around airports is being upgraded as part of the Government’s Airspace Modernisation Strategy to make air travel more efficient with fewer delays while mitigating environmental impacts including noise and emissions. The Airspace Change Organising Group (ACOG) was set up to help coordinate the airspace change programme across 20 UK airports, including Gatwick.

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‘London Airspace South’ is the first phase of airspace modernisation proposed in the London and South East. Our Public Engagement Exercise is part of a defined regulatory process set out by the CAA to develop the Airspace Change Masterplan and upgrade UK airspace. Stakeholder engagement is an integral part of the process and later this year, Gatwick airport and NATS, as sponsors of the changes, will be carrying out consultations, setting out any proposed changes to flight paths. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to offer feedback on the detailed proposals at this stage.”

A CAGNE spokesperson said: “CAGNE has objected throughout that those who Gatwick intend to newly fly over should be engaged from the outset; 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.”

They also added: “The CAGNE objections and questions have been ignored by Gatwick Airport management and by the CAA that has continued to approve stages as the CAA play judge and jury with people’s lives.”

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

ACOG’s public engagement exercise runs from 12 February to 24 March and residents can find details here.