Thousands of businesses located around Gatwick Airport have voiced their support for plans to expand Britain’s second busiest airport.
Rosemary French, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, has written to Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, on behalf of 100 individual businesses and 12 business membership organisations, representing 5,500 businesses and neighbouring areas, backing the Gatwick Airport submission.
The proposal argues the South East will be best served in the future by all three airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) having two runways. Other submissions to the commission include a new runway at Heathrow and three possible replacement hubs – an artificial island in the Thames Estuary, a major expansion at Stansted, or an airport at the Isle of Grain in Kent. The latter proposal is being championed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Rosemary said: “Expansion at Gatwick with a second runway alongside the maintenance of Heathrow as a two-runway airport is the best next step in aviation provision for London and the South East because it is the most cost effective of all the options, does not use public money and the environmental implications are smaller.”
It is stated it will also result in considerable job creation, the airport is already the best connected to London, the South East and the rest of the UK by rail and road and the second runway can be built quickly.
However, Brendon Sewill, chair of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), which is leading the opposition to a second runway told the County Times: “We very much doubt if these big business associations really reflect the view of all their members, certainly not once local firms realise the full impact of a new runway.
“When local firms realise that what is planned is an airport larger than Heathrow, creating far more jobs than available locally, creating also a serious shortage of labour, probably a rise in pay rates which could put local firms out of business, and the need for around 40,000 new houses, serious congestion on roads and railways, and serious overcrowding at schools and hospitals, we guess they will withdraw their support.”
Mr Sewill added: “GACC does not believe that business interests, closely allied to the commercial interests of Gatwick Airport Ltd, should be allowed to make life worse for the great majority of local people and destroy the countryside of Surrey and Sussex.”
The Gatwick Diamond economy stretching to a 20-mile perimeter of Gatwick Airport is currently made up 38,000 businesses which contribute £19bn GVA and has an economically active population of 406,000.
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