Kent villagers oppose Gatwick flight path proposals

Aircraft taking off at Gatwick Airport The plans could mean up to 28 flights an hour over places like Hever, Chiddingstone, and Sevenoaks Weald

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Residents in parts of west Kent are opposing proposals to change the flight path at Gatwick Airport.

Airspace regulators are consulting over changes to flight paths to and from the airport, which they say will reduce delays and improve efficiency.

The proposals could mean up to 28 flights an hour over places like Hever, Chiddingstone, and Sevenoaks Weald.

Paul Haskins, from National Air Traffic Control Services (NATS), said change was needed.

NATS wants to create an airspace network with planes flying on specific routes, similar to a motorway.

It said the changes were needed to ensure safety levels and the new system would mean less noise for most people.

'Extremely intrusive'

But people under new flight paths could experience more air traffic.

Brian Saunders, from the Weald, said: "There could be up to 20 flights an hour going over our village, and these would be at a height of less than 4,000ft (1,200m) which would give a noise level up to 70 decibels, which is the same as being next to a vacuum cleaner."

Tom Denton, from Gatwick Airport, said they had tried to open up the consultation "as widely as possible".

He added: "The areas that we're potentially going to change are very large areas, so the area is not specifically going to direct aircraft over Chiddingstone, it's possible, but it's not a done deal.

Nats general manager Mr Haskins said change was needed.

"Aircraft navigation technology has developed over the years," he said.

"We can get aircraft climbing fast to reduce the noise impact.

"And also, it will allow us to handle increased capacity over the next 15 years or so."

The consultation ends on 21 January.

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