Airport seeks to assure people it is listening to their concerns

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Gatwick Airport says it is listening to people’s fears over the possibility of expansion.

Some are concerned the airport is only releasing positive information regarding a second runway. However, Gatwick’s head of community engagement Lindsay Baldwin said it was yet to do major investigations.

“You can understand people want to know, but it’s still early in the process. We were asked by the Davies Commission to put a case forward for a second runway. We have done some work. The next phase of work, should we be on the shortlist, will look in more details at the specific options.”

She added: “We will be looking at opportunities for people to leave their comments, asking people their views. We want this to be something that the community is excited about, that they feel excited about the future of aviation and the great benefits that Gatwick brings.

“There will be people who don’t want it but, nevertheless, we want to understand where they are coming from even if they don’t support us.”

She said the ways in which the airport benefited the area included its £81m annual contribution to the local economy and employing 25,000 people.

She added: “Gatwick Airport Community Trust is part of the Section 106 agreement with West Sussex County Council. Every year we pay money to the trust. They invite local groups to apply for grants from £500 to £5,000. They make their requests and the trustees decide where the money should go.”

This year is was £188,000 and it increases with inflation each year to £194,000 next year and £200.000 in 2015.

The airport regularly raises money for its three nominated charities - Sussex Wildlife Trust, St Catherine’s Hospice and Gatwick Travel Care, the airport’s charity which helps people found without accommodation or onward transport from the airport.

Lindsay said: “We try as much as we can to not only take responsibility as an airport to be a good community airport but also for our staff to be good community ambassadors. It’s not only good for the community. It means that our staff learn new skills and bring that vitality the airport.”