West Sussex County Council approved a motion supporting ‘in principle’ a second runway at Gatwick today (Friday July 19).
Gatwick Airport is making its submission to the Airports Commission today and will publicly reveal plans on Tuesday, which are expected to include a second runway.
While some in the chamber felt that the motion was premature and should be deferred to allow members time to look at Gatwick’s submission, the vote was carried by 42 to 10 with 12 abstentions.
Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West), leader of WSCC, said: “The world grows increasingly competitive and West Sussex County Council must rise to the economic challenge or be left behind.
“We need to give businesses a reason to come here. A world class airport does that.”
She and Pieter Montyn (Con, The Witterings), cabinet member for highways and transport, who proposed the motion, told the audience that their support was ‘in principle’ and they would do their best to negotiate measures for infrastructure improvements as plans progressed.
She also confirmed that they would stick to the agreement of not building a second runway at Gatwick before 2019,
James Walsh (LDem, Littlehampton East), leader of the WSCC Liberal Democrats, added: “If there is to be airport expansion in the South East it must come to Gatwick and not suck economic growth away from West Sussex.”
Graham Jones (UKIP, Felpham) said two days notice was not enough to give a considered view on a second runway at Gatwick, and thought it would be a disservice on the people who elected him to give an opinion at such short notice.
However Dr Walsh berated the UK Independence Party for not coming up with a position on Gatwick and said they ought to be ‘ashamed’ to a chorus of loud cheers.
During the meeting county councillors from Crawley expressed their disquiet at the impact a second runway might have on the environment and housing in the town.
Proposing deferral Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate & Crawley Central) expressed his surprise that in a space of a week a long held policy of the council to oppose a second runway had ‘evaporated’.
He said that plans would fundamentally change the lives of the people in the county forever, but his motion was defeated.
Bob Lanzer (Con, Maidenbower), also leader of Crawley Borough Council, said he would be abstaining from the motion, and while he made it clear he did not support a second runway, he was pleased to see the county council’s willingness to engage in order to mitigate possible environmental and infrastructure problems.
Meanwhile Bill Acraman (Con, Worth Forest) predicted a mega city in the north of Sussex equal to the size of Brighton, stretching across the north of the Horsham district, sprawling from Broadfield in Crawley to Forest Row.
He added that the A264 and A272 would probably need to be brought up to motorway standard, and asked whether the infrastructure improvements needed would ‘magically appear’.
For the full story on Gatwick Airport’s submission to the Airports Commission see next week’s paper.