OBJECTORS are seriously concerned over proposals for an ‘airspace grab’ in the skies above Sussex.
TAG Farnborough Airport has applied for about twice the volume of controlled airspace that London Gatwick Airport uses to handle 34.2 million passengers per year.
The proposals would reduce the altitude of aeroplanes and, it is claimed, threaten the amenities of thousands of residents, aviation at Goodwood, as well as the future of gliding groups near Pulborough and in Hampshire which would have restricted airspace.
The airport caters for civil commercial and private jets and currently handles around 23,000 flights a year, although it has permission to cater for 50,000.
But objectors have claimed there would be a dramatic increase in noise, the risk of accidents and pollution in the skies if the proposals are accepted.
A spokesman for Lasham Gliding Society said at a presentation on its objections: “This corridor brings the potential of mid-air collision to an unacceptable level while increasing noise and emissions over towns dramatically.”
Petworth MP Nick Herbert is already backing the Pulborough-based Southdown Gliding Club’s fight against the plans. Now Chichester District councillors and MP Andrew Tyrie are asked to move against the proposals.
The spokesman told the Observer TAG Farnborough Airport was proposing to take over ‘a vast area of lower-altitude controlled airspace’.
One of the flight corridors is over Bognor Regis, east of Chichester and Midhurst, over Easebourne and Fernhurst across to Haslemere.
It would be used by some 20-30 aircraft every day.
Currently aircraft pass over the area at 7,000 feet, but the proposals could bring this to as low as 4,000 feet. The noise level in the Midhurst area could rise to 64 decibels.
“Seventy7 decibels is recognised as ‘annoyingly loud’ and equivalent to a hoover at one metre, 60 decibels is ‘loud’ and a hoover at three metres, both levels are described as loud enough to disturb conversations,” said the spokesman.
In addition, he said jet engines were less efficient and used more fuel at lower altitudes, which increased pollution.
There was also a safety risk: “There is now an aviation ‘gateway’ about 20 miles wide between Southampton and just west of Gatwick which was used by some 250,000 aircraft in 2013.
“This proposal to reduce the height of the controlled airspace will compress the amount of air traffic into a gap just six miles wide.
“This must clearly increase the risk of collision.”
At the time of going to press, Goodwood was unavailable for comment.