A business leader has warned that there would be “widespread economic devastation” if Gatwick was not chosen to house a second runway.
The comment was made by Jeremy Taylor, CEO of Gatwick Diamond Business, following the group’s AGM – and a county wide independent survey published last week indicated that the majority of businesses supported expansion at the airport.
With the debate over where extra runway capacity should be focused gathering momentum, West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council commissioned the research to better understand the views of the public.
Key business leaders were among those invited to a meeting at the Civic Hall on Wednesday (July 10) where the results of the research were presented.
Some 621 businesses were contacted in May and more than half (53%) said they would support the building of a second runway – although just under a quarter of businesses (23%) said they would not.
Speaking at the meeting, Rosemary French, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, said: “This is the start of a debate that could last two years and I commend West Sussex County Council for starting this debate and enabling the stake holders to take an early view and debate that. The Gatwick Diamond Initiative is absolutely supporting a second runway. Much of this [survey] mirrors the research we have done.”
Mr Taylor said a second runway would bring jobs and long-term security to the town. He added: “A second runway to the south of the existing runway would be ideal.
“If the next runway goes elsewhere then there will be an impact on local jobs.”
But Robert Vygus, representing Langley Green Neighbourhood Forum warned: “One of the things that is starting to strike me, Crawley is becoming a pressure cooker.
“How do we house people? Our green spaces are being taken up. What degree will they be taken up?”
To read the results in full, log on to www.westsussex.gov.uk and search for Aviation.