Gatwick Airport Master Plan Consultation

Gatwick Airport Ltd is currently consulting on its new Master Plan. The deadline for comments is 10th January 2019.

Gatwick Master Plan consultation

Gatwick want to:
• increase the use of the runway from 55 to 60 flights an hour and increase
the number of hours in the day when they operate at that capacity.
• use the emergency runway routinely, increase flights to 70 flights an hour.
• safeguard land to the south of the airport for a future runway.
Find the full Master Plan and consultation on www.gatwickairport.com

The High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group's Response is below - the full version is available at www.hwcaag.org

The main points of objection which you can include are:
• The councils agree that the most significant issue is that the Master Plan takes
no account of the need to balance growth with environmental impact.
• The effect of 60 air traffic movements per hour and “peak spread” will make
air traffic controllers direct aircraft to join the final approach in a more
concentrated pattern further from the airport.
• It also increases the chances of spill over from the day schedule into the night
period. This is not acceptable.
• We support sustainable growth at the airport. 45 flights an hour would allow
for maximum dispersal, and growth based on sustainable year round use.
• A full airspace change should be required.
• Gatwick must protect and compensate residents for the disruption.
• The environmental impact has not been balanced with growth.
• Use of the emergency runway makes the issue of environmental noise impact;
lack of adequate surface access; air pollution even harder to solve. Use of the
emergency runway creates safety concerns if the main runway is out of action.
• The increase in use, and for that peak capacity to be spread, will bring
increased concentration of flights making an already unsustainable situation
• We strongly oppose the safe-guard of land to the south of the airport for an
additional runway. The UK has decided on a hub at Heathrow.
• This change along with the one in 2013 constitutes a 35% increase in
• Gatwick should adhere to World Health Organisation guidance; provide a
noise protection scheme; noise insulation for homes; compensation for loss of
• Climate scientists are currently warning of the necessity to reduce carbon
emissions and prevent permanent damage to the planet. The Master Plan
does not recognise the severity or the proximity of that threat.
• Gatwick and the airlines need to be carbon neutral. Gatwick needs to be
playing a clearer role in helping the Government meet its carbon targets.
• Gatwick’s engagement strategy has been to set up new forums to engage
with the public, but then fail to act on what they are told. The airport knows
the impact without doing anything to mitigate or compensate those negatively
• Our residents use the M23 and M25 and Southern Rail routes to London for
work and leisure on routes that are already at full capacity. The M23, M25 and
Brighton main line are not suitable to carry the increased number of
• Infrastructure improvements that are listed in the Master Plan are designed to
deal with the recent increase in passenger numbers rather than future

DfT Night Flight Consultation

The Department for Transport has launched a consultation on night flight restrictions at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.

See www.gov.uk/government/ consultations/night-flight-restrictions-at-gatwick-heathrow-and-stansted

Gatwick Independent Review of Arrivals

The review summarises the conclusions of a four month consultation and technical exercise undertaken by Bo Redeborn and Graham Lake to determine whether more could be done to lessen the impact of noise on local residents and improve engagement between Gatwick and the community.

A summary of the review can be found here.

The Airports Commission consultation for additional runway capacity for the South East

The options were as follows:

1. A Second Runway at Gatwick Airport: this would have an intolerable impact on our area. It would provide sufficient capacity for Gatwick to accommodate 560,000 air traffic movements per year, doubling the existing capacity. The new runway would be operational in 2025 and would cost £9.3 billion. It would allow passenger numbers to increase to 96 million per annum.

2. An Extension to the Existing Northern Runway at Heathrow Airport: this would expand the airport’s maximum air traffic movement capacity to 700,000, an increase of 220,000 on its present level. Heathrow is London’s hub airport and is already the UK’s primary long-haul gateway for passengers and freight. The new runway would be operational in 2030 and would cost £13.5 billion.

3. A Third Runway at Heathrow Airport: this would expand the airport’s maximum air traffic movement capacity to 740,000, an increase of 260,000 on its present level and allow passenger numbers to reach 149 million by 2050. The new runway would be operational in 2030 and would cost £18.6 billion.

The consultation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/increasing-the-uks-long-term-aviation-capacity 

Please see Leigh Parish Council's response here

Please see The High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group response here



Gatwick & Aircraft Noise

Leigh Parish Council has joined a group of other local parishes called High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group.  As an individual Parish Council, we represent our community and therefore have the opportunity to respond to consultations on your behalf. Whilst this does have an impact, by joining forces with other local parishes under a group initiative, we will have a far greater impact.   The High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group (HWCAAG) was formed in 2013 and has held regular meetings to discuss current consultations and how the group can campaign against aircraft noise, low-flying aircraft, night flights and the threat of a second runway at Gatwick Airport. 

High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group

You can see the group's policy document here.

Gatwick Airport's Airspace consultation

The consultation can be viewed on www.gatwickairport.com/gatwickairspaceconsultation.

You can see Leigh Parish Council's response to this consultation here. 

You can see the HWCAAG response to this consultation here. 

Gatwick Airport's consultation on their proposal for a second runway

At present, Gatwick Airport handles 35 million passengers a year, with a current capacity of 40 million. As part of this  consultation, Gatwick Airport asked the public to consider three possible options:

  • Option 1: second runway allowing an increase in air traffic from the present capacity of 40 million passengers per annum up to 68 million passengers by 2050.
  • Option 2: second runway allowing an increase in air traffic from the present capacity of 40 million passengers per annum up to 85 million passengers by 2050.
  • Option 3: second runway allowing an increase in air traffic from the present capacity of 40 million passengers per annum up to 90 million passengers by 2050.

This possible increase in passengers will, of course, have a knock-on effect on the road infrastructure and pollution.

You can see HWCAAG's response to the consultation here.

Please see below the responses submitted to date. 

Airports Commission Appraisal Framework Consultation: deadline for responses 28th February 2014 

You can see the Airports Commission Appraisal Framework Consultation here.

Please find Leigh Parish Council's response to the consultation here.

Night-Flight Consultation: deadline for responses 31st January 2014

You can see the Night-Flight consultation here.

Please find Leigh Parish Council's response to the Night-Flight consultation here. 

 The London Airspace Consultation: deadline for responses 21st January 2014

Please find Leigh Parish Council's response to the consultation here.

Please find High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group response to the consultation here.

Please find Kent County Council's response to the consultation here.


Pilots used to use ground based navigation points, but now there is performance based navigation (PBN) technology which gives much more accuracy, but also allows flexibility in positioning flight routes. New European legislation means that airspace must be maximised by using PBN and changes must take effect from 2020. PBN will improve efficiency and reduce the environmental impact. Part of the aim of the consultation is to simplify the routes and design-out choke points.

Runway directions

The wind direction on any given day (or hour) dictates which direction the runway is used for take-off and landing. This in turn has a major influence on the traffic patterns in surrounding airspace. If the wind is from the west, aircraft take off and land in a ‘westerly’ direction. This means that departures take off heading to the west of the airport and arrivals line up towards the airport from the east. When the runway is used in this direction it is referred to as ‘Runway 26’ because the heading the aircraft fly is 260°. If the wind is from the east (less frequent) aircraft take off and land in the opposite direction using Runway 08. Because the prevailing wind is from the west the split in runway usage is 73% Runway 26 and 27% Runway 08.


A one minute departure interval would make the airport more efficient in getting departures airborne, reducing delay in the busy morning period when there is high demand for departure slots. Ultimately the airspace change would enable Gatwick to plan for more departures per hour. Based on current demand profiles, this could mean around 2-5 more departures per hour during such periods of high demand. This would be attractive to airlines and customers.

Safely reducing the time intervals between departures from Runway 26 can be achieved by repositioning the low-altitude departure routes.

Phase 1

The Government wants to address the airspace around Gatwick and London City airports. The first phase has a target date of 2015. Later phases to other parts of the airspace network have a target date of 2020 when the new European legislation comes in. This consultation is part of a strategy to develop solutions for both the short and long term, assuming unchanged airport infrastructure. It is not associated with the work being undertaken by the Airports Commission. Any further proposals arising from any recommendations made by the Airports Commission would be subject to separate consultation at a later date.

  • The consultation is regarding airspace as a whole, not final route positions which will be determined after feedback has been received to this consultation.
  • The aim of the proposals is to have less noise. However, the proposal will permit more flights to be handled which may outweigh any noise benefits. Also it’s clear that there will be less noise for some and more noise for others.
  • Flight paths will change, some areas will be over-flown more than they are today, others less and others will have no change.
  • Respite routes are being considered for Gatwick
  • There will be fuel savings of 10,000-20,000 tonnes per year
  • The average CO2 released per flight will be reduced
  • The design of the proposals are flexible, feedback to the consultation can help shape a solution that optimises the benefits.
  • Specific information must be included in responses – eg AONB, local economy, SSSI, historic sites etc.

Flights below 4,000 feet - the primary objective of the consultation is noise reduction
Flights between 4000-7000 feet – noise has some impact
Flights above 7000 feet – efficiency is key

/Core/Leigh-Parish-Council/UserFiles/Files/Gatwick map 1.doc

Above 7,000 feet

Point Merge will be introduced which replaces the holding system. It will be 1000 feet higher at 8000 feet. There will be a holding system available that could be used as back up but over time will be used less and less. This Point Merge will reduce the need for tactical manoeuvre below 4000 feet as aircraft will already be on track.

Point Merge allows aircraft to queue to land by flying an extended flight path around an arc instead of holding in circles. They fly along the arc until the next slot in the landing sequence is free, at which time air traffic control (ATC) will turn the aircraft off the arc into the landing sequence.

Extending the flight path in this way means that aircraft queue one behind another, rather than one above another. Arcs from opposite directions are separated vertically by 1,000ft. The Point Merge structure shown in Figure D6, with arcs ranging from around 15 to 40 nautical miles long. The appropriate size and precise location for the Point Merge arcs will be determined through the detailed design process to be undertaken following consultation.

/Core/Leigh-Parish-Council/UserFiles/Files/Point Merge illustration.pdf

4,000-7,000 feet

Point Merge above 7,000 feet enables the development of a more predictable route system below 7,000 feet. The consultation considers the creation of extra respite routes upon arrival and departure.

Respite routes are where more than one route is implemented for air traffic in a particular direction. This means that all aircraft would alternate use of the routes in line with an agreed schedule, for example by time and/or day of the week, which would give residents beneath the routes a degree of predictability around potential impact. Developing additional routes for respite purposes may not be practical in all circumstances, and it is not possible to vary the final approach itself. Additional routes will take up more space and make the airspace more complex which counters the benefit of PBN. It may be a possibility if it is deemed to be particularly beneficial given local circumstances. Additional routes have some disadvantages; environmentally it would mean that the area subject to regular over-flight would double compared to a single route solution, and routes would be longer, more fuel would be used and there would be greater CO2 implications.

Where should the respite routes be? Should they overfly AONBs and countryside or more populated areas. The DfT’s target is to reduce the number of people affected by noise. Respite would double the number of people affected but some to a lesser extent. There are environmental and operational pros and cons.

Below 4,000 feet

Aircraft must line up with the runway as they begin their final approach to land. The final approach flight path descends directly to the runway and is fixed in line with the extended centreline of the runway. Aircraft today generally join final approach between 10 to 15 nautical miles from touchdown at an altitude generally no less than 3,000ft. Air traffic control must ensure that aircraft on final approach have been organised into an efficient sequence for landing. An efficient sequence is where aircraft are safely spaced, ensures the runway is fully utilised and that flights are not unnecessarily delayed in the air.

The consultation is seeking to optimise parts of the system operationally and environmentally; in particular considering the following changes to routes below 4,000ft:

Fundamental PBN redesign – and therefore repositioning - of all Runway 26 departure routes

Introduction of PBN arrival routes to join the final approach for both Runway 26 and 08; these would bring traffic from the ‘Point Merge’ arrival route system which is being proposed in network airspace above 7,000ft to the south of the airport (see above)

Extra PBN routes to enable ‘respite’ solutions; this is being considered for departures and arrivals for both runways

The PBN technology creates a very narrow route of 100m to 200m width and therefore creates much more noise for fewer people. There will still be air traffic control intervention where necessary due to other conditions. 90% of aircraft today have PBN and the remainder will be equipped when the European legislation comes into force in 2020. PBN does not improve efficiency on the runway but it improves efficiency in the airspace. Gatwick has 51-52 runway movements per hour. The current angle of descent is 3o at continual descent. If flights are higher and a steeper descent is allowed, the technology used to ensure a safe landing cannot be used in all traffic conditions. When these technical limitations change, it might be possible.

/Core/Leigh-Parish-Council/UserFiles/Files/Respite illustration.pdf

Respite routes could still be possible below 4,000 feet but there are limitations (see above).

It may be possible to consider a balance of respite and financial compensation for residents under the flight path.

The actual routes will be drawn up following analysis of the consultation feedback. NATS will only go to consultation again if the new routes affect different areas than those shown in the consultation, and even then only specific areas will be invited to submit further comments.

Please see www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk.