Gatwick consultative committee ‘not spineless’

Gatwick Airport 5-1-15 (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150601-100616001
Gatwick Airport 5-1-15 (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150601-100616001

A Horsham councillor has hit back at comments she said were aimed at GATCOM, which accused the committee of being ‘a bit spineless’.

GATCOM – the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee – was set up in the 1980s to advise airport leaders about issues causing concern among air travellers and within the local community.

High on that list has been noise.

Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate), who has served as Horsham District Council’s representative on the committee ‘for more years than [she was] prepared to admit’, spoke during a full council meeting at Parkside on September 5.

Mrs Kitchen said problems with airport noise – and the perception of noise – in the area had seen some anti-noise groups taking aim at GATCOM, even though the committee has no decision-making powers.

While she did not name names, after the meeting Mrs Kitchen said: “There have been comments that GATCOM is a bit spineless because it is made up too much of people working at the airport and not so much local people who are worried about airport noise.

“That’s not, strictly speaking, true because there are many elected members on there from Surrey, West Sussex and East Sussex and two or three parish councils.”

GATCOM meets four times a year – with the next meeting scheduled for 2pm on Thursday October 18 at the South Terminal’s Hilton Hotel.

Among its achievements, the committee was responsible for the launch of NATMAG – the noise and track monitoring advisory group – which brings together local authorities, Gatwick Airport and the Department for Transport to discuss issues such as night engine testing and ground noise complaints.

Mrs Kitchen said: “Over the years GATCOM has done a very good job of helping local residents to understand the industry and helping the industry to understand the local residents.”