Gatwick Noise

On Friday I will be meeting representatives of PAGNE, Pulborough Against Aircraft Noise, and APCAG, the newly-formed Association of Parish Councils Aviation Group which includes the parish councils of Pulborough, Wisborough Green and Kirdford in my constituency.

A couple of summers ago when walking along the River Arun near Wisborough Green I was struck by how intrusive the aircraft noise was compared to Arundel where I live.

I will be discussing this issue with the local groups, who are campaigning to protect local communities from unacceptable noise from aircraft movement.

A report commissioned by Gatwick Airport - the Arrivals Review - has recommended that the approach paths to the airport should be widened, which would help to meet the demand from many local communities for a more fair and equitable distribution of flights.

West Sussex and Surrey MPs debated these issues in the Commons this week, and I made the point that quiet rural communities have little ambient noise, which means that a concentration of flights over them is disproportionately noisy to residents.

This degree of existing background noise should be taken into account when aircraft noise limits are calculated. 

In reply to the debate, the Aircraft Minister said that the Government believed that it is usually better to concentrate aircraft over as few routes as possible in order to minimise the number of people affected.  He pointed that that this had been Government policy for many years.

But he added that the Government’s current policy made it clear that there may nevertheless be instances in which multiple routes, such as those that can offer respite for communities, can be better.

A second runway at Gatwick would more than double the number of flights and makes this problem worse, with more flights than at Heathrow today.  The Government is due to take a decision on this issue within a few months.

I hope that the Government will follow the unequivocal recommendation of the independent Airports Review and opt for expansion at Heathrow rather than Gatwick.  Expanding Gatwick would hugely increase development pressures in West Sussex which are already intense.

But if Gatwick does not get a second runway, the existing problem of noise must be mitigated.  So I hope that the recommendations of the Arrivals Review will be implemented.

Alexander BlackGatwick