Congestion Charge Proposal at airport
Staff and visitors may have to pay a fee if second runway agreed
27th May 2015 – Crawley News
A Congestion charge could be introduced at Gatwick Airport for passengers and employees if a second runway is built.
The possibility of a charge for people travelling to the airport, including possible exemptions for the “greenest” vehicles, has been included in a West Sussex County Council report.
In the event of Gatwick being chosen as the preferred option for a new runway, passengers, staff at the airport and even taxi drivers could all be forced to pay.
The report, which forms part of the council’s response to the Airports Commission, reads: “Depending on the scale of charge imposed, and the extent of the scheme (whether it targets passengers, employees and/or taxis), it is possible that traffic generation with the expanded Gatwick Airport could be reduced to 2013 levels.”
Maidenbower county councillor Bob Lanzer believes the idea is worth looking into. He said: “It is an option that I think would be more acceptable if there was strong evidence to show a significant increase in air pollution would happen without it.
“Without pre-judging a debate into this, I believe there would be technology available, such as automatic number plate recognition cameras, which could be installed at the airport boundary to differentiate between resident vehicles and passengers travelling to the airport.”
Sue Mullins, a county councillor for Gossops Green and Ifield East, said she would not support a congestion charge. Cllr Mullins said: “I think that would be one quick way to upset the people of Crawley.
“Even if it started by charging passengers, such a charge could quite easily snowball out of control and end up forcing residents to pay too. I don’t think it would be suitable. London is very much a different kettle of fish to Crawley.
“If Gatwick was to get a second runway we would have to look at proper traffic calming measures across the town; how every roundabout, junction, feeder road and arterial road works. “Implementing a congestion charge to discourage road use would not be an adequate solution.”
The charge is currently just a mooted idea and detail has not been given on how it would be administered – including times, where exactly the charge zone would be and who would definitely have to pay.
The London Congestion Charge, a comparable scheme, was introduced in 2003 and is in operation Monday to Friday between 7am and 6pm. It costs £11.50 a day.
However, a Gatwick Airport spokesman said bosses have already guaranteed air quality levels would remain within legal limits close to the airport, even without considering a congestion charge.
In January county councillors voted to oppose a second runway being built at Gatwick.
This was a reversal on the council’s position in 2013, when the majority of members voted to support expansion at Gatwick Airport “in principle”.
The Airports Commission was expected to make a recommendation to the Government in June on whether Gatwick or Heathrow should get a new runway. But the commission decided another consultation, this time on air quality, needed to be carried out first. That is due to end on Friday.
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