A runway success … or terminally grounded
The cases for and against a second runway at Gatwick are made in the week before an expected Government announcement on the airport expansion
5th October 2016 – Crawley Observer
The long awaited decision on the future of airports at Gatwick and Heathrow is expected to be made by the Government this month.
Airport expansion has proved a difficult topic for successive governments, and the issue was given to the independent Davies Commission by former Prime Minister David Cameron.
While it recommended a third runway be built at Heathrow last July, the Tory Government stalled on accepting the commission’s findings and an announcement setting out which airport will be allowed to expand has been delayed several times in the past year.
But now Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said a decision would be taken ‘shortly’, with a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow, or an extension to one of its existing runways, the three options on the table.
However PM Theresa May has refused to rule out new runways at both locations, and she is chairing a Cabinet aviation committee due to make a decision next week after the Tory Party Conference finishes.
Campaign groups, councils, and MPs surrounding Gatwick have opposed a second runway due to concerns around infrastructure and the environment, but business leaders have highlighted the economic boost expansion at the airport could bring.
The airport itself announced a strategic partnership with Bechtel, the firm behind the Channel Tunnel and Crossrail, earlier this week to help deliver a second runway by 2025 if the Government gives the go-ahead to its expansion.
‘Mayor economic benerfits for minimal impacts’
By Charles Kirwan-Taylor, director of corporate affairs and sustainability at Gatwick
Gatwick is fortunate to enjoy excellent local support for our expansion plans.
At the heart of these plans is the need to balance the significant economic benefits expansion would deliver, while limiting the environmental impacts.
The need for a new runway has never been greater. Gatwick is already the world’s busiest single-run-way airport, flying to more destinations than any other UK airport.
Gatwick connects local businesses in the South to important business destinations around the world, helping to generate tens of thousands of local jobs while playing an important role in the economic success of the region.
But without a new runway, the London airport system will be full by 2025 and the UK risks losing out to our competitors who are forging ahead with new links to existing and emerging markets around the world, which is more important than ever in this post-Brexit environment.
With land already safeguarded for expansion, a second runway at Gatwick can be delivered faster, is 100% privately funded and with approved road and rail improvements, Gatwick will be road and rail ready for a new runway by 2020, boosting local transport links for local commuters.
Due to Gatwick’s cheaper landing fees and lower construction costs, Gatwick expansion will ensure passenger charges remain low while increasing competition across the sector.
Unlike Heathrow, we recognise that our community will have concerns about a new runway, that is why Gatwick has made cast iron guarantees to local people and the Prime Minister that we will do everything we can to minimise the environmental impacts of expansion.
To achieve this, we have committed to a range of guarantees on air quality, noise and compensation.
Air quality is one of the most important issues in this debate and a critical public health issue. Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and van guarantee that with a second runway we will remain well within these important legal limits.
On noise, we will limit the noise contour area most impacted by aircraft noise (57dBA Leq) to 70sqkm, an area with a current population of 15,000 people. This is less than 5% of the hundreds of thousands of newly affected people Heathrow would impact.
For those most impacted by noise, Gatwick’s industry leading compensation scheme will pay £1,000 per annum towards those people’s council tax.
These Guarantees are in addition to the pledges Gatwick has already made to ensure the benefits of expansion are spread across our local community, which is why we have committed to:
- A £46.5m fund to help local authorities deliver essential community infrastructure
- A £3.75m fund to help create 2,500 new apprenticeships for local people
- Further noise insulation measures
- A £10m local highway development fund in place to meet any additional works
- For the small number of homes that would need to be compulsorily purchase a £131m Property Support Bond will offer homeowners 25% above market value, significantly above statutory requirements
- A £14m Home Owners Support Scheme to buy any homes that would be subject to high levels of aircraft noise – above a set noise level – under the new plans.
While we await a Government decision on expansion Gatwick is continuing to do everything we can to limit noise and lessen our environmental impact.
Gatwick is already on track to become the UK’s most sustainable airport and we intend to remain so with a second runway.
With the ongoing support of local people we can make this runway happen so that the South and Britain can finally benefit.
‘We cant recreate our countryside and heritage’
By David Johnson, Chairmen CPRE Sussex:
While travelling around Sussex for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, local people tell me that their voices are not being heard when it comes to new development in their neighbourhood.
I also see Sussex councils struggling under continuing Government pressure to find yet more sites for development. This pressure is met by fierce community challenges as local residents fight to protect what makes Sussex special – its tranquil rural beauty.
As building new infrastructure and swathes of new homes seem to be regarded as the key to inflating the UK’s economy, there is further concern over the government’s imminent statement on airport expansion.
I fully understand why the possibility of a second runway at Gatwick causes such anguish and why 12 local authorities and eight senior MPs all oppose its expansion; it would threaten towns and countryside far and wide.
Already one council, 46 miles from the airport, is arguing for major local road improvements citing Gatwick as a reason.
I remember my very first flight from Gatwick to Guernsey in the Sixties when the airport was more like a train station, just a convenient place to catch a plane.
Today Gatwick is more like an expensive shopping mall and series of car parks with planes attached.
I can also remember a meeting last June in a beautiful C18th farmhouse adjacent to the southern perimeterwhere we all had to shout to be heard as the smell of kerosene lingered in the air and jets thundered pass.
While the nuisance of aircraft noise, light and air pollution and the impact on local traffic is familiar to many of us, any extension to Gatwick threatens to worsen this blight.
The burden of a greater Gatwick fills me with dread – ‘progress’ should not lead to a decline in air quality, the bulldozing of ancient woodlands and the loss of glorious, tranquil countryside.
Gatwick lies in the lee of the North Downs surrounded by three ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ which enjoy the same protections as the National Parks.
This irreplaceable landscape is under threat and at least 17 Grade II listed buildings would need to be bulldozed simply to enable more UK residents to travel out of the country on low cost holidays.
Sussex would shoulder much of the burden of a Gatwick expansion – a report produced by the pro-Gatwick group, Gatwick Diamond, has revealed the expansion would create the need for 25,000 additional homes and acres of associated services and infrastructure.
This would generate another 100,000 new car journeys and 60.000 new rail passengers – pushing the M23 and M25 to capacity and crippling the London-Brighton rail line. Rail Track has already made it clear that the Brighton Line could not cope with an influx on this scale and would be unable to expand or remedy pinch points on the line.
Gatwick already has problems with aircraft noise it seems unable to solve. With no respite from two runways, day and night, 7 days a week, what would the impact be of an increase in flights to 560,000 planes a year over a 30 mile radius?
Who will benefit from Gatwick expansion? If the £40 million advertising campaign and propaganda is effective, then probably only Gatwick Airport Ltd, its foreign shareholders and its executives – one of whom, according to the Sunday Times, will benefit by £5 million when the airport is sold.
We may be smart about our technology but we can’t recreate our countryside, ancient woodland, and heritage.
We arc all responsible for our legacy; surely we should be leaving behind a better world by preserving our country side from such destructive developments as a new runway at Gatwick.