Emotions take flight as runway opponents ponder expansion decision
While anti-expansion campaigners celebrate, Gatwick and business leaders were not so happy to lose out
26th October 2016 – Crawley Observer
By James Oxenham and Karen Dunn
After months of delays and, for some, decades of campaigning, the news Heathrow had been chosen for a new runway prompted a gamut of emotions.
For those who had campaigned against expansion at Gatwick there was joy; for those who had thrown their all into winning the government’s approval there was disappointment.
On one side of the divide was Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive. He said: “We are disappointed as we do not believe this is the right answer for Britain. Gatwick has put forward a credible financeable and deliverable plan for expansion.
Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Chief Executive
“It is a plan that can guarantee growth and guarantee certainty for Britain. We look forward to studying the full reasons behind the Government decision in detail.
The challenges facing’ Heathrow have not changed. Our message today is that Gatwick stands ready to proceed when the time comes.”
On the other side of the divide were names such as GACC, CAGNE and One’s Enough – campaigners who feared for the consequences of expansion on the people and ecology of the area.
The CAGNE group Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions – met at the Plough Inn, Ifield, to hear the new’s on Tuesday (October 25).
Chairman Sally Pavey said: ‘This clear decision will put an end to the years of uncertainty for our communities and the county. Gatwick expansion was always the wrong choice both from a national and a local perspective.
“Nationally, had Gatwick been chosen” Britain could not have competed with Europe’s excellent transport hubs because we would have had two inadequate hubs 40 miles apart with little or no
“Locally, it would have brought our infrastructure to a standstill destroyed our ancient woodlands, heritage sites, and areas of outstanding natural beauty, added numerous new flight paths over areas previously undisturbed and doubled flights over our skies night and day with no respite”.
Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC – the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign – said the government’s decision would see hundreds of thousands of people across Surrey, Sussex and Kent “breathe a sigh of relief that the threat of more noise and more pollution, more traffic jams on the M25 more standing on the trains, and deterioration of this beautiful area has been lifted”.
The Government has backed Heathrow for expansion, rather than Gatwick (photo Jeffrey Milstein)
He added: “We have great sympathy with all those who will be adversely affected around Heathrow but we are glad to see that the Government will introduce legaly binding noise targets, and confirm that fewer people will be affected by noise by 2030 than are today.
“We note that meeting air quality legal requirements will be made a condition of planning approval for Heathrow – that should rule out any judicial review on this issue.”
Mr Sewill said GACC would “remain on guard” against any attempt to revert the decision to Gatwick though he acknowledged that was “unlikely”
He added: “We are delighted that ministers and civil servants have not been influenced by Gatwick’s 40 million advertising and lobbying campaign.
In contrast” over the last three years GACC has quietly and rationally pointed out the disadvantages of Gatwick and we are glad that this has proved effective.”
One’s Enough also pledged to remain on their guard against “any attempt by Gatwick to reverse this decision”.
Derek Meakings, campaign coordinator, said: “One’s Enough and its hundreds of supporters are naturally relieved that the government has rejected Gatwick’s cynical advertising and lobbying campaign to build a second runway that could never provide the massive benefits required for the whole of the country.
“With its poor connectivity – M23 and Brighton Line – to London and the whole of the UK Gatwick has always been and always will be in the wrong place to benefit the whole country.”
Mrs Pavey said it was now time for Gatwick to accept the “unambiguous and unequivocal” recommendation and the decision from Government and to focus on “making today’s airport quieter and cleaner, rather than doggedly continuing their campaign”.
Describing the airport as a “‘bucket and spade” airport for south east holiday makers, Mrs Pavey added: ‘Gatwick is on the wrong side of London to benefit the whole country and would have delivered the least in terms of jobs and economic growth for every part of the country, and its ever-declining freight tonnage would do nothing for our exports post-Brexit.”
While Crawley Borough Council opposed expansion at Gatwick leader Councillor Peter Lamb said he had “personal reservations” about the decision.
Calling on the government to make its final decision sooner rather than later he said the “uncertainty’ of the situation had “caused a huge amount of problems for the town for such a long time”.
Mr Lamb said he was worried investment in Heathrow could see Crawley lose business, adding: “Personally it means that an awful lot of businesses are going to have to work to maintain the prosperity that has been bought to the area, particularly of late.”
Regarding the council’s position, he said: “l think most councillors will be happy with the result. It was the council’s position that we didn’t want a new runway at Gatwick.
“I think I can see some risks more clearly than other people and I am going to do my best to make sure these risks don’t become a reality.”
Government Back Heathrow Over Gatwick for Airport Expansion
26th October 2016 – Crawley Observer
By James Oxenham
The Government has given its support for a new runway at Heathrow Airport.
After years of discussions, debates and delays The Department for Transport has confirmed the Government is backing a new runway at the London-based airport over Gatwick.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling addressed the House of Commons on the decision on Tuesday.
In July 2011, the Airport’s commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, backed Heathrow but did not rule out expansion at Gatwick.
Gatwick argued that it could deliver a second runway quicker and cheaper than expansion at Heathrow, but campaigners have suggested the area’s infrastructure is inadequate to cope and raised concerns about the noise impact on residents under existing and new flight paths.
The decision is to be subject to a’full and fair’consultation before it is finalised next winter.
The scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft National policy statement (NPS) for consultation Cheers echoed around the Plough Inn in Ifield as campaigners gathered to listen to the announcement.
Businesses have expressed their disappointment over the Government’s decision to back Heathrow over Gatwick.
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive Gatwick Diamond Business, said: “whilst it is obviously disappointing that the preference is for Heathrow that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to see a new runway at Gatwick.
I’m a passionate supporter of Gatwick and this support is reflected in the majority of our members and by the 35 business organisations who recently co-signed a letter to the PM calling for Gatwick Runways.
“Fundamentally, I believe that a third runway at Heathrow is undeliverable. There are too many obstacles from surrounding councils and from London MPs.
“Furthermore, the conditions stated by the Davies Commission – which include no night flights and no worsening in air quality – are likely to be insurmountable.”
Mr Taylor also raised concerns about infrastructure funding on the M25 and rail lines to service Heathrow.
“By contrast” Gatwick has the land and the money ready to invest in delivering the 2nd Runway here,” he said. *There is no question that there will be some infrastructure and environmental impact from that runway, but it will be a fraction of the impact from Heathrow.”
He called for the Government to address how the ‘losing’ area will be affected.
Crawley MP Henry Smith said: ‘The Government has made the right choice in the national interest” as recommended by the independent Airports Commission.
“l am confident that Gatwick will continue to grow as an alternative airport, and I am pleased to see flights expanding from a number of airlines.”
Chamber of Commerce: One Runway Not Enough’
One new runway will not be enough to meet the UK’s needs, according to the Sussex Chamber of Commence.
While the organisation’s national partners greeted the approval of expansion at Heathrow with a heartfelt “it’s about time” things were not so jovial at the local level.
Chairman David Sheppard said: The Sussex Chamber of Commerce, and many businesses in Sussex are disappointed the decision wasn’t made in favour of Gatwick with its clear economic benefits to the region. One new runway is not enough to give the UK the aviation capacity it requires to trade the world successfully.”
While expansion at Heathrow has received the governmental nod, a third consultation needs to be held and it could be more than a decade before the runway is built.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce said of the announcement: “Put simply, it’s about time.
Successive governments have prevaricated for far too long the face of a blindingly obvious need for more runway capacity.