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6 September 2013
London Gatwick has today welcomed the Airports Commission’s focus on noise as a central consideration in any decision which may be made about future airport capacity.
The impact of noise on local communities is an important and controversial issue for the Commission’s assessment of options for increasing airport capacity. It is important as noise can significantly affect the quality of life for communities living close to airports, and it will be a major factor in determining whether or not there will be community and political support for particular airport developments. It is, and will remain, a controversial issue, because of the impact on communities and because, despite long debate, there is not firm consensus on how to approach issues around aircraft noise or even on how to best measure noise.
Within today’s submission, Gatwick demonstrates how its proposals would impact significantly fewer residents living under its flight path than other options being tabled. Studies show that with a second runway, the number of people impacted by noise at Gatwick would range from 3,300 – comparable to today with a single runway – up to 11,800. The overall number of people who could be affected by noise from a second runway at Gatwick would be equivalent to less than 5% of the people Heathrow impacts today – mainly because aircraft would not fly over highly populated areas of London. This fundamental fact will not change in the future.
While Gatwick compares favourably to other options for expansion, it has also clearly reiterated its position that runway expansion should not be allowed at any cost to local communities. It is imperative therefore that the Commission provides as much clarity as possible on how it will deliver the Government’s objective of ‘limiting and where possible reducing the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise’ when assessing the long term options.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of London Gatwick, said: “Noise issues for local communities are taken very seriously at Gatwick, which is why we are a leading airport in the crucial area of noise management. We also continue to work closely with local people to understand and address their concerns. Technological developments both in aircraft and airspace design will allow airports like Gatwick to grow whilst mitigating our noise impacts. With our position to the south of London, we have a huge advantage over other runway options directly to the west and east of London. Even with a second runway, Gatwick would impact less than 5% of the people impacted by Heathrow today.
“The Government has made clear that its primary policy objective in this area is to limit and where possible reduce the number of people significantly affected by aircraft noise. Against that policy background, it seems clear that a second runway at Gatwick would be much preferable to a third runway at Heathrow; when more people are already significantly affected by noise than at all the other major EU hub airports put together¹.”
London Gatwick has made a number of recommendations to the Commission within its submission. A key point is that the noise impacts of each proposal should be evaluated on a common basis, and we ask the Commission to provide clear details of the noise assessment framework it will use in its appraisal of options and to ensure that noise modelling of all further proposals is presented on a uniform basis.
Gatwick also urges the Commission that, if it makes recommendations to Government for airport expansion, it is explicit on how to make Government’s noise policies more precise and operationally relevant for the purposes of the Commission’s work. Doing so would greatly increase the likelihood of the Government accepting the Commission’s overall recommendations.
Read Gatwick’s full submission on Aviation Noise here.
¹European Commission, CAA. Figures based on the populations affected by noise using the standard measure of 55 LDen 2006 figures.
Gatwick Airport’s ‘Fly Quite and Clean’ programme
In addition to being one of the world's leading airports on the management and mitigation of noise, alongside extensive community engagement on the issue – Gatwick has implemented and trialled a number of UK 'firsts'.
1. ACDM planning tool: This not only makes the world's busiest single runway even more efficient, but also significantly reduces ground noise from aircraft for local communities (by reducing taxiing and apron holding). No other UK airport does it as extensively as we do.
2. P-RNAV: This initiative allows aircraft to fly on specific flight paths rather in massive swaths. This allows us to fly over areas with the least amount of people - a key government goal. Gatwick is the only UK airport to trial this and now has permission to roll this out across all its flight paths. It will significantly reduce the amount of people impacted by noise.
3. P-RNAV is also a transformational tool which enables Gatwick to implement a number of airspace changes which will further reduce noise for communities and will reduce carbon impacts. The key change is the introduction of rotating respite off the single runway. This means we can have two alternative P-RNAV routes on both arrivals and departures. We are currently trialling a night-time respite program at the moment, with a view to introducing it during the day in the near future. No other airport in the UK can do this.
4. Point Merge: As part of the major airspace change being conducted by NATS for the government over the South East (LAMP), Gatwick will be the first airport to implement a system where aircraft converge via a specified 'funnel' (over the channel eventually) on to a merge point at 7,000ft (where the aircraft will join one of the P-RNAV routes into the airport). This greatly reduces the need to stack aircraft over land therefore reduces noise annoyance.
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About Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the busiest single-runway airport in the world. It serves more than 200 destinations in 90 countries for around 35 million passengers a year on short- and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the South-East region, generating around 23,000 on-airport jobs and a further 13,000 jobs through related activities. The airport is 28 miles south of London with excellent public transport links, including the Gatwick Express. Gatwick Airport is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.
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