The growth of Gatwick Airport is vital for economic growth but would cause pollution and noise, it was argued at the Crawley Debate.
Businesspeople hailed the expansion of Gatwick Airport as important for economic growth at the annual meeting at the Civic Hall, on Wednesday (February 6).
But others warned a bigger airport would be detrimental to environmental health.
A member of the public, who used to work for British Caledonian, said he thought a second runway was needed to secure more large airlines at Gatwick.
Kyron Hanks, strategy and regulation director at Gatwick Airport, said: “One of the things that is evident is a lot of airlines have gone to Heathrow. One of the benefits of a second runway would be to get those and get flights to New York from Gatwick.”
Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond, agreed adding it would also create jobs. He said: “A company called Straumann decided to move here because of Gatwick and the connectivity. So it’s important to have a growing Gatwick to bring diversity.”
Mr Taylor added that Crawley had to be able to compete commercially with other towns and other countries.
He said: “If Heathrow expands and Gatwick doesn’t then the businesses that serve this area will leave and go to other parts of the country.
“My fear is if we don’t grow, where will businesses go?”
Mr Hanks replied: “If they go to Heathrow we will lose millions of passengers over night.”
Robert Vygus, chairman of the Langley Green Forum, said people were concerned the airport would encroach on the neighbourhood.
He added: “I can’t help thinking Crawley was created to help people get away from an overcrowded Metropolitan area like London and those problems will be created with an airport the size of Heathrow. Please don’t let it beat us up completely.”
A member of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign said a second runway would cause twice the amount of aircraft, noise, pollution and airport related traffic.
Cllr Lanzer reassured him that Crawley Borough Council would monitor pollution levels.