TAG joined other campaigners from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports this week to deliver a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Transport. The letter demands a voice for those who will be affected by the flight path changes which are expected to be introduced over the next few years that will use the new navigation technology and concentrated flight paths. The campaigners have asked for a meeting with the Transport Secretary.
The move follows anger from residents at the various changes to flight paths which have taken place in the last two years. Protest groups have sprung up around Gatwick in response to the changes to both arrival and departure routes that are already in place. The recent departure trials at Heathrow sparked a record number of complaints. In East London furious residents staged public meetings after not being properly consulted about London City’s proposals to concentrate flight paths.
The various changes are part of a European-wide programme to make more effective use of airspace and are now impacting the whole of the UK. They are designed to enable airlines to save fuel, allow aircraft to land at and depart from airports more efficiently to reduce delays. In the UK Gatwick and London City have been earmarked as first in line for the changes. Heathrow is expected to have its changes in place by 2019 with national changes by 2020.
As the trials demonstrated, residents fear that the changes will result in excessive concentration of aircraft along selected routes. The campaign groups are particularly critical of NATS (National Air Traffic Control) and the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority), the two organizations who are driving the changes.
John Stewart, HACAN said, “NATS and CAA are remote from residents. They plan these flight path changes in their hi-tech ivory towers. Our letter to the Transport Secretary contains positive proposals for flight paths that could work for both the industry and for residents. They involve providing all residents with some respite from the noise. HACAN is actively engaging with Heathrow to see what can be done. But it does require NATS and the CAA to play ball”.
Stewart added, “London City Airport have been much less willing to engage with us and seem content to simply do what NATS asks them even if it means the creation of noise ghettos.”
You can see the full text of the letter here signed by united campaign groups including the newly formed Communities Against Increased Aircraft Noise group (CAIAN).