‘Racetrack’ style flightpath over Midhurst raises noise and pollution fears

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Plans for a concentrated ‘racetrack’ style flightpath over the Midhurst area with lower flying planes has sparked noise and pollution fears.

The new proposals have come from TAG Farnborough for flights from the south coast to the airport. They follow a public consultation in 2014 on plans to expand flightpaths which brought objections from across the Midhurst area.

Now the airport wants to narrow its flightpath over Midhurst and 24 surrounding parishes, making it a concentrated ‘racetrack’ with all planes flying on one route.

Currently they pass over the area at altitudes of 6,000-7,000ft and this could be reduced to as low as 3,500 ft.

Although the airport says its new ‘limited consultation’ will cover two dozen parishes, many of them in the South Downs National Park, Midhurst Town Council, at the centre of the park, has yet to receive official notification.

A spokesman for the national park said: “More flights directed on a more concentrated path and at lower altitudes over the South Downs will have an impact on the tranquillity of the national park. We are also concerned that the proposals will enable increased air traffic above the South Downs for flights approaching Gatwick.”

Mark Purves, chairman of Midhurst Town Council, said: “The people of Midhurst would be seriously affected by these proposals and we have not been officially notified. It’s shocking that they can put them forward and not give us the opportunity to have our voice.” The town council will be debating the new flightpath plans and making a response by the consultation deadline of October 5.

Among those leading the opposition are members of the Southdowns Gliding Club, who fear the proposals could spell the end of the club.

Vice president Craig Lowrie said the traffic density did not warrant such a large area of controlled airspace: “The number of passengers is insignificant. This airspace is largely for the super rich and famous and is extremely bad for the environmental perspective generating significantly more noise.”

He fears its ‘lifeblood’ cross country flying would be eliminated under the new plans: “The new and lower airspace proposed reduces the distance we can fly after penetrating a sea-breeze front. Our long and downward glide which usually allows us to reach our home airfield is effectively shortened such that we cannot reach our airfield.

“We invested all of our savings, and more, to buy our airfield in 2009, to secure our long term future but our club could be set to disappear through no fault of our own.”

He said jets could only maintain lower altitudes with more engine power ‘and the consequence of that is more emissions and more noise’.

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