Since the London Airspace Consultation (LAC) went live on 15 October 2013, a number of points have been raised from members of the public and interested stakeholders, which we thought we would clarify here, as well as in the FAQ section of the consultation website.
As you may remember, we posted a blog and infographic about the LAC on 24 October, explaining our proposed changes to airspace over southern England specifically, Sussex, Essex, Suffolk, Kent and Hampshire.
Only seven weeks now remain for responses to be given on the proposals, which promise to deliver significant benefits, including fuel savings for airlines, fewer CO2 emissions and less noise overall for people living below.
So, we’ve asked Harri Howells, Airspace Change Manager, to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about the consultation and address your concerns….
Why are you consulting on ‘swathes’ of airspace and not routes?
We learn from every consultation we undertake and the vast majority of responses to our 2008 consultation came only from people under the proposed flight path – and unsurprisingly they all objected. As there were so few responses from people further away, the consultation provided virtually no information of any help, except that we needed to consult earlier in the design process and get people’s input before route positions are finalised.
In this consultation, we are asking everyone in the geographic areas identified to assume that a new route may go over them and to provide us with the local information they believe we should factor into designing final route positions.
We firmly believe that early consultation is the best way to involve stakeholders in the design process, rather than consulting on final route positions that are fixed.
So will you have a second consultation when you’ve chosen specific routes?
Any additional public consultation will only be done if there are new impacts that arise from the detailed design process that have not been covered in this consultation e.g. a route must be positioned outside the swathes, or a route that must be at lower levels than being consulted on here.
We have built our swathes to cover all the likely options, and our consultation identifies all the potential impacts; therefore while it is not ruled out, we do not expect to have to undertake further consultation in these areas.
It is likely that low level changes at Gatwick will result in some changes to noise contours and footprints and so further public consultation in this area by Gatwick Airport Limited is expected.
What’s the point in giving feedback at all then?
Because this consultation is being undertaken before the detailed design that determines exactly where the routes will be positioned, your feedback on local or specialist information that we may not know about, may affect the final design and positioning of routes.
Will you be putting routes over areas that aren’t currently overflown?
No, this whole area is already overflown today and not all areas within the consultation swathes will be affected. The changes we are proposing will overall mean less noise for more people.
Is this consultation a means to facilitate airport expansion and extra runways?
No, our focus is to meet short-to-medium term demands and make the best use of existing runways.
Any significant future changes to runway infrastructure will require further changes to the airspace system. The breadth of the required airspace changes will be entirely dependent on whatever option is chosen by the Government. Any such changes would be the subject of their own change processes and consultation at a much later date.
These changes proposed in this consultation are intended to make the operation of Gatwick’s existing runway more efficient – reducing delay, fuel burn and emissions while managing noise more effectively for local communities. Based on current demand profiles we would expect this to mean around 2-5 more departures per hour only during periods of high departure demand – this is generally in the morning rush only and so does not represent a significant increase in overall traffic.
All of these answers and more can be found on the consultation website – www.londonairspaceconsultation.com. Just click on the FAQ tab.
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