Dateline: 7 July 2016
Many of you have copied us in to your messages to Gatwick and that word describes your recent experience of the concentrated flight paths better than any other.
So what is happening right now to effect change to your airspace? Can we bring you any succour?
1. Re-widening the swathe
With permission, I quote from the draft minutes of the inaugural Noise Management Board meeting held on June 21st
Imm-10 [re-widening the swathe]
The CAA, NATS, GAL, ANS and airlines are closely co-ordinating to fulfil their respective requirements related to the implementation of Imm-10.
Central to the plan is the preparation and approval of the associated safety case. This work is underway and expected to be complete during July 2016, thereby permitting the remaining measures necessary for the recommended change to the swathe to occur around the end of July. [2016, that is, our bold]
This will expand the swathe from 2 nautical miles wide to 6nms and return it to one very similar to how it was pre-2013.
So, there we have it, in writing.
I would just add this line from Graham Lake, of the Arrivals Review Team
"It would be prudent while acknowledging the very good progress made to date, to remind your readers that it's not done till it's done."
And I would also strongly urge you not to see this change as curing the problem. It is a step, a very significant step - but one of several we need to see implemented to bring about real improvements to your airspace.
Most crucially, once the swathe is re-widened, our task is to ensure it is then used fairly and equitably.
2. Continuous Descent Approach
CDA's refer to how smoothly an aircraft descends, thereby reducing its noise impact.
4 of the Arrivals Review's recommendations covered improvements to CDA's including increasing the height at which they start and laying down a much more consistent quality threshold than they have at present.
While work is underway on CDA's, this will not have an impact until later this year, at best.
But it is at least underway.
What else is going on?
The Noise Management board
We recently asked you to support our Nomination to sit on the Noise Management Board, and to demand that the community groups had 4 seats in total, not 2.
Gatwick advise 361 of you did so which was a superb response, thank you.
We were successful in both and I am now representing GON on the NMB.
The initial role of the NMB is to implement the Arrivals Review in full and that is exactly what I intend to do.
The Judicial Review
Very many of you were wonderfully generous in funding our JR process.
Having won Permission (at the second time of asking) to take it to the Final Hearing, (only 16% of JR applications reach this stage) we then applied jointly with Defendants in December 2015 to Stay the process for 6 months.
This was to allow time for discussions with the primary Defendant (the CAA) while the Arrivals Review progressed.
At our request, we have recently agreed with the CAA to a further Stay of 6 months until December 2016 for exactly the same reasons.
This means the court case is still very much live and if we feel discussions are not going the right way and agreements are not being fulfilled (ie the Arrivals Review) then we can trigger the final, Substantive Hearing.
We at GON (we have a 15-strong team) think this is the most prudent way forward, all things considered.
It is my name on the JR against some fairly heavyweight aviation stakeholders ('Barraud v CAA, with the Secretary of State for Transport, NATS and Gatwick as Interested Parties in the defence') but I am extremely conscious that I am only doing so through your generosity.
We take every step with that very clearly in mind.
Gatwick Obviously Not