By any standards, last week’s Farnborough Aerodrome Consultative Committee (FACC) meeting was a disaster, writes Colin Shearn of the Farnborough Noise campaign group.
Yet again the public weren’t allowed to join the meeting in person and had to join by Zoom.
For the third meeting in a row there were technical problems so the public couldn’t dial in or hear what was going on. The public’s video, voice and chat were blocked until the last 20 minutes of question time and then only two questions were allowed from the public before the meeting was closed.
The biggest story in town at the moment is the change in flightpaths that is causing more noise and pollution.
There is a year-long review of the airspace change that is now two-thirds through. That’s what the public wanted to discuss but instead they were subjected to two hours of airport performance presentations that could have been sent out in advance for people to read.
During the consultation process in 2014, the Farnham Herald reported a statement from airport management that “only a bare minimum of flights will pass over north Farnham”. That isn’t what happened as the current flightpaths show.
The airport was legally obliged to collect noise data during the consultation process. It now says that no data was collected so there is no point measuring noise now because there is nothing to compare it against.
There have been a huge number of complaints about noise so what has the airport done to address this? It has submitted a planning application to Rushmoor Council to absolve itself of responding to “people who complain too much”.
Surely the reason people are complaining is because they have a valid grievance. Given the time it takes to submit a complaint, they aren’t doing it for fun.
Even the impact on aircraft safety, caused by the compression of aircraft into a smaller airspace over our area, is not going to be included in the review, and that is surely the most critical issue.
Formal “Requests for Information” to provide the data that was used to design the flightpaths and to justify the negative impact that was recognised at the time have been ignored.
There are very valid concerns that the review process must consider and that is what the public and various groups have been demanding for the past year.
The airport should recognise the public’s concerns and try to find solutions, with the support of the FACC.
In a statement, Farnborough Airport strongly refuted Mr Shearn’s claims that its airspace changes had compromised safety.
An airport spokesman said: “The Farnborough Aerodrome Consultative Committee (FACC) is an independent consultative forum which Farnborough Airport participates in.
“Farnborough Airport is committed to working constructively with all its community stakeholders and understands that for some residents who live in areas which are adversely impacted by the operation of the airport, perceived noise intrusion is unwelcome.
“Farnborough Airport is licensed and audited by the Civil Aviation Authority and strongly refutes any assertion that aircraft safety has been compromised.”