Commission hears Gatwick concerns
Article courtesy of Crawley Observer Online 17/12/2014
Concerns about noise, the environment and pressures on the area’s infrastructure should Gatwick be expanded have been raised with the Airports Commission.
Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies chaired a meeting at the Arora Hotel, in Southgate Avenue, on Tuesday (December 16) where he heard from residents, politicians and community groups.
Also at the meeting was Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive officer, who was bombarded with questions and accusations from the floor about the airport’s proposal for a second runway.
Crawley MP Henry Smith reeled off a list of questions for Mr Wingate and asked him to explain how the area’s infrastructure would cope with the increase in population the airport would bring.
Mr Smith focussed particularly on the pressure such an increase would have on class sizes and GP services.
While acknowledging the positive aspects of Crawley being an airport town, he warned expansion would be “a fundamental change and impact on the community of Crawley”.
Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, took the concerns one step further, stating it was “highly questionable” whether the funding for the Gatwick proposal would be forthcoming.
Mr Blunt also asked how Gatwick planned to fill the thousands of jobs expansion would bring when the local unemployment rates were so low.
Responding to Mr Blunt, Mr Wingate pointed out jobs growth at the airport would happen over a long period of time. He added: “We’re not overnight going to simply create 22,000 new jobs. This will be a more gradual process over several decades.”
Mr Wingate also confirmed the building of a third terminal at Gatwick had been moved into the first phase of development.
The submission made to the Airports Commission in May had the terminal pencilled in for the second phase.
Among concerns raised from the floor was the noise impact for Crawley’s new neighbourhood, Forge Wood, which the meeting was told did not appear on any of the maps submitted to the commission.
Paul Garber, of Capel Parish Council, told the meeting two-thirds of the new homes at Forge Wood would be affected by noise.
He pointed out the noise protection area on the plans included noise bunds for Manor Royal but nothing for the area in which Forge Wood would be built.
Brendon Sewill, of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, asked Mr Wingate how much money had been spent on Gatwick’s advertising campaign.
The figure was £1.75million but Sir Howard assured the meeting the money spent on the campaign would have no influence on the outcome.
Mr Sewill told Sir Howard: “The reason we are so upset is we think that putting an airport bigger than Heathrow down here would totally alter the character of this area for ever.”
The meeting was still in progress when the Observer went to press.
Geoff Williamson Vice President of the Chamber attended the meeting on behalf of the Chamber
After lunch there were 2 more sessions one with Local Authority Leaders and One with Business Representatives
Despite a heavily biased audience some positive comments were forthcoming from Local Authority Leaders and during the last session Local Businesses in the Gatwick Diamond did have their say.
Positive Comments from Local Authority Leaders
Cllr Peter Lamb from Crawley Borough Council stated during his presentation that if asked to vote tomorrow he would likely vote for Gatwick 2nd runway. He also advised all present that during the numerous poles that had taken place over the Airport issue there had consistently been a 50/50 split re 2nd runway at Gatwick. However this split was not by geographical area but by age group with young people in favour for a second runway.
Cllr Louise Goldsmith West Sussex County Council confirmed that West Sussex County Council continues to support a 2nd runway at Gatwick
Cllr Tony Newman from Croydon Borough Council supported the 2nd runway proposal at Gatwick and went on to say that there were plenty of people living in Croydon able to fill some of the vacancies at Gatwick during expansion
Positive comments from Business Representatives
Martin Heffer from Coast to Capital (C2C) said that Gatwick was the key enabler to growth in the South East
Rosemary French from the Gatwick Diamond stood in for Jeremy Taylor who was unable to attend for family reasons read out a statement from Jeremy Taylor laying out the Business case for a second runway at Gatwick. Most importantly Rosemary said that the 2nd runway option at Gatwick was the most cost effective of the three proposals. She went on to say that 92% of Gatwick Diamond Members were in favour of a second runway and many of the Local Business Organisations had been approached by Jeremy about a 2nd runway and over 95% of those business organisations members also favoured a second runway
Cath Lynn, Group commercial director of easyJet Plc that aviation has a vital role in supporting the South East. They support a 2 runway Gatwick
Two important questions that did not get asked due to lack of time were
1: “What will the Commission do to find the views of the silent majority rather than those of the vociferous minority?”
2: “What will be the knock on effects if no expansion takes place at Gatwick?”
If you agree with these questions or have any of your own please read on
Finally Howard Davies from the Airports Commission said that they encouraged people to respond to the Consultation which will run until the 3rd Feb 2015
Ways to respond
Return the form either by
Email to: email@example.com
or Write to:
Airports Commission Consultation
PO Box 1492
You may also email or post direct responses that are not related to the response form.
Letter: Strong support for expansion Courtesy of Crawley Observer 28/12/2014 @ 7:38am
Re: the Airports Commission consultation event.
Your readers will be interested to know that the second half of the session highlighted very strong support for expansion among the local business community.
Out of 130 minutes of speeches, only 10 minutes was given to a business organisation to give reasons to support the runway. Ten minutes is not enough to adequately reflect the community of 45,000 businesses in the Gatwick Diamond, the largest majority of whom support a second runway judging by many surveys over the past year. They were not at the event because they are too busy trading to provide the £20.7bn GVA that drives probably the world’s first airport economy. Nor does 10 minutes from one business organisation reflect the support being publicly given by business organisations not only in Crawley but in Croydon, Brighton & Hove, Eastbourne, Burgess Hill, Chichester, East Grinstead, Hastings, Worthing & Adur, Hayward’s Heath, Battle, Hailsham, Seaford, Newhaven, Peacehaven and Lewes as well as the Regional Federation of Small Businesses and of course the Gatwick Diamond Business organisations.
However, in those 10 minutes I was able to talk about the potential to have two world class airports within an hour, to experience real fare and route competition and choice, and to increase the number of businesses exporting, already amazingly high at over one third (when the UK average is only 20%!) because there is an airport here. I also talked about the 110,000 people that leave the Gatwick Diamond every day to work, many of whom will take advantage of the well paid knowledge sector jobs that will be attracted to this area and those additional jobs from businesses already here which will grow even faster. I was able to knock holes in the Heathrow Hub argument and to talk about the ‘no cost to the exchequer’ solution of Gatwick.
What I did not do was insult and threaten the anti- campaigners in the way that they insulted Stewart Wingate personally. Nor did the business organisations attending rudely talk over, snort and jeer like the antis did when they did not agree. Unfortunately, the session in the afternoon purported to be a business session became just another knock Gatwick session by the antis.
My only comfort is that I believe that the Airports Commission will make their recommendation on sound, logical and economic reasons not on emotional outbursts.
Rosemary French OBE, Executive Director, The Gatwick Diamond Initiative