Horsham District Council could vote to oppose a second runway at Gatwick due to the ‘very considerable detrimental effect’ it could have on the district next week.
The Airports Commission is currently holding a public consultation on options for airport expansion in the South East, with both Heathrow and Gatwick vying to be selected as the preferred option later this year.
The council is due to discuss its response to the consultation on Wednesday January 21 at a Full Council meeting in public, and a report from the leader of HDC Ray Dawe (Con, Chantry) is recommending councillors conclude ‘it does not support the Gatwick option’.
The report reads: “The council is recommended to endorse a response from the council leader to the Commission, based on this report, which:
“A) States that after full consideration of the Gatwick option, the council has concluded that because of the very considerable detrimental effect that a second runway is likely to have on the physical, social and economic environment and on the character of the district, it does not support the Gatwick option.
“B) Provides detailed comment designed to help the Commission understand the council’s concerns, as set out in this paper,
“C) Provides an indication of action that the council considers necessary, should it be concluded that Gatwick is the preferred option, including more effective measures to reduce or mitigate the impacts of a second runway at Gatwick and development associated with it.”
The report points out that the scale and nature of growth associated with a second runway at Gatwick has not been factored into current local economic and planning strategies, and that a wider Gatwick sub regional plan would be required.
It notes that the suggested job growth figures raise questions about where the new personnel would come from, considering current low employment in the area, and what impact it would have on housing and staff transport.
Concerns are also raised around the scale of new housing needed to support a second runway and whether the Commission has ‘overestimated the capacity of the area to accommodate housing growth in a sustainable way’.
It suggests that the £46.5m pledged by Gatwick towards community infrastructure ‘will not be sufficient to address strategic needs in the area’, including secondary school and hospital provision.
The report explains: “Access to hospitals is already a concern in the northern part of West Sussex and the problems will be exacerbated by further population growth linked whether directly or indirectly.
“The need for a commitment from the Government to a new hospital to serve the area should be incorporated into any recommendation from the Commission for a new runway at Gatwick.”
It asks the Commission to recognise the potential impact on major transport links in the district, especially the Arun Valley railway line, and the A264 and A24 ‘both of which are likely to experience further pressures, both in their own right and as alternatives to the M23/A23’.
The report also raises concerns over noise and other environmental impacts.