Tom Denton, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Gatwick Airport, answered questions from Crowborough Town Councillors on 21st July.
In response to a question about more flights over Crowborough in the last few months, he said:
There has been no increase in the number of flights. It is acknowledged that there have been a large number of complaints about an increase in the volume of air traffic and we will continue to look into this.
You can read the full Summary of the Question & Answer session here and the Town Councils submission to the consultation: Minutes of the Planning Committee on 21st July 2014.
Gatwick Airport is asking people in Sussex about changes to the flight paths for arriving and departing planes.
Gatwick say changes will result in planes being more concentrated over a narrower corridor than they are today. Their priority is to reduce the number of flights over built-up areas such as Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge.
The airport is asking residents to say what they think about noise over their homes, businesses and facilities such as hospitals, as well as noise at night which may disturb your sleep or be effecting your health.
They want to know whether people are concerned about the impact on the countryside, including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty such as the Ashdown Forest, as well as effects on house prices.
Most of the time arrivals fly over Crowborough area on their approach to Gatwick. This is because the prevailing wind direction is from the west 73% of the time. Planes take-off to the west into the wind, and arrivals line up towards the airport from the east, with airplanes make their turn onto final approach around Hever Castle (as shown in the diagram below).
Gatwick want to make best use of the existing capacity on their single runway by designing routes which will enable them to safely use one minute interval between take-offs as often as possible. They say this will result in 2-5 more departures per hour.
Tom Denton, Head of Corporate Responsibility at London Gatwick, said:
Our local residents and communities are a key priority when it comes to airspace change. We want to minimise noise for as many people as we possibly can – and where that’s not possible – offer respite options as a mitigating measure.
As well as the main route, Gatwick are asking residents about a respite route for arrivals at night. They say this option would benefit those living under the main daytime route, such as Chiddingstone, Penshurst and further south to Langton Green.
Gatwick is the first major airport to consult about changes to airspace which will come into effect in 2020. The wider consultation, London Airspace Management Programme, is being run by NATS, the provider of air traffic control in the UK.
This consultation does not take into account of the long-term proposal to build a second runway at Gatwick. The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, will report to the Government after the next general election in 2015. Any additional runways built in the South East will not become operation until after 2025, and they will require further redesign of the airspace.
When there is a westerly wind (73% of the time), the single runway at Gatwick is referred to as Runway 26 or RWY26 because the heading the aircraft fly is 260°.
The consultation about Gatwick airspace runs until Friday 15 August, you can view the documents and submit your feedback here.