Hever Castle expresses concern about Gatwick proposal to use emergency runway

July 06 2023 | Castle

Hever Castle CEO Duncan Leslie is urging visitors and members to oppose Gatwick’s proposal to use its emergency relief runway as a fully functioning runway which he argues could nearly double the number of planes over the heritage site.

The childhood home of Anne Boleyn is 12 miles from the airport and currently sits under the flight path.

Mr Leslie said: “The number of residents overflown by Gatwick is less than Heathrow. However, there is a big difference – Gatwick is surrounded by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a designation only given out to a few places in the UK that are considered to have the very best landscape which is worth this status.

“The legislation is clear that aeroplanes should avoid flying below 7,000 ft above an AONB or National Park. We appreciate it is not possible to keep every part of these special places quiet and protected but it appears that the airport has completely ignored this obligation.

Hever Castle is one of the most visited parts of the High Weald AONB yet they choose to fly over a “heritage asset” in a protected landscape even though they could avoid it. The reason, I suspect, is because had they conceded to do so it would reduce the chances of being allowed to fully utilise a second runway at Gatwick.

“With any other transport infrastructure project, one would not be allowed to build a road or a railway line close enough to cause a nuisance to a Grade 1 listed castle, park and garden, especially to a heritage asset of Hever Castle’s calibre. I hope you share my view that we, as a nation, should protect our best landscapes and heritage and that all efforts should be made to ensure those areas granted special designation should be protected as much as possible.”

He is calling on visitors and members to respond to any airport consultation such as the Northern Runway Proposals Consultation or write to their MP.

He added: “I should point out we are not against Gatwick Airport we just wish they would make more effort to avoid flying over some of the most visited and cherished parts of the country that their own clients come to visit. Let us at least ensure the powers that be follow the spirit of the legislation made to protect these places to ensure that they are places that you, your friends and family can continue to enjoy for a great many years to come.”