PM’s ‘new enthusiasm’ over Gatwick runway welcomed
Business chief ‘excited’ over report but campaigners cast doubt
3rd June 2015 – Crawley News
Reports that Prime Minister David Cameron is warming to the idea of a second runway at Gatwick have been hailed as an exciting development by a local business leader.
But a local campaigner leading the fight against the airport’s expansion says he remains confident that neither Gatwick nor Heathrow will end up getting an additional runway.
A recent report in The Guardian claimed that Mr Cameron was “more enthusiastic” about a second runway at Gatwick than a third at Heathrow.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, which represents local businesses, says he was excited to hear about the Prime Minister’s reported support.
He said: “In my view, all of us should be working to support the second runway at Gatwick and make sure we get the infrastructure investment that is needed for all of us to benefit.
“We can see that with improvements to the M23 and M25, the developments to the rail system that will treble capacity on the Brighton Mainline, and new bus routes connecting those areas that do struggle with higher unemployment, much is already being done to bring improvements.
“We need to see politicians working together for the good of the majority, most of whom support the runway, rather than running scared from a few self serving and ill-informed NIMBYs. ”
But Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, an environmental group opposed to the airport’s expansion, is unconcerned that Mr Cameron is reported to favour
He said: “I think it’s still all to play for. Some people are convinced it’s Heathrow, some are convinced it will be Gatwick, but there will be huge problems at either airport. We think the conclusion will be no runway will be needed. This is the conclusion that is reached each time.
“The airlines are using bigger aircraft so there will be no need for more runways.”
Mr Cameron’s reported warming to Gatwick comes just weeks before the Airports Commission’s final report on which airport it recommends for expansion.
The Government will make the final decision but it would prove highly controversial if it went against the commission’s recommendation.
Mr Sewill remains worried about pollution levels should Gatwick be chosen.
Mr Taylor believes such stories, which are based on information from unnamed “sources ”, should be “taken with a pinch of salt”. But he added: “In this case, I think it’s interesting to see the story come out so close to the publication of (the Airports Commission’s) findings and also during the consultation period on air quality.
“What matters is that politicians of real stature like the PM, George Osborne and Boris Johnson are being seen to align themselves with Gatwick as they understand that Heathrow is not
deliverable, either politically, environmentally or financially.
“The local MPs who have bowed to the minority, yet vocal, view against Gatwick are going to have to tread carefully.”
A Gatwick spokesman also welcomed the Guardian’s report. He said: “As the expansion debate enters the final stages, it is clear there is growing support and momentum behind Gatwick as the best and only deliverable option.”