MPs welcome rejection of second Gatwick runway

JPCT 190115 S15031180x protesters outside WSCC meeting on Gatwick Airport County Hall North. Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150119-121812001
JPCT 190115 S15031180x protesters outside WSCC meeting on Gatwick Airport County Hall North. Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-150119-121812001

Two Sussex MPs have welcomed the county council’s vote against the proposal for a second Gatwick runway after earlier urging councillors to reject the plan.

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert and MP for Mid Sussex Sir Nicholas Soames both wrote to West Sussex county councillors, with the latter describing the decision to support the draft proposal as a ‘serious mistake’.

The Mid Sussex MP said: “This is not and never has been the right place for a second runway which would have a malign impact on the local environment and infrastructure.”

His letter to councillors stated: “They are £100 billion behind the Heathrow proposals in terms of national economic benefit, and there is no available labour force to staff this vast new business. Many thousands of extra homes will be required in the area, when all local planning authorities are really struggling to work out how to meet existing housing demand.”

He added the airport relies on one busy rail line in comparison to Heathrow’s five, and has a ‘wretchedly slow’ arterial route, the A23 or the M25. No strategic improvement is planned or would be funded by GAL,” he said.

“From Christmas Eve 2013 until now Gatwick have had an awful year. Flooding, baggage handler shortage, air traffic control, rail disruption, and new flight paths creating massive pain and aggravation for their neighbours. Burying their head in the sand won’t make it go away. A vast advertising budget funded by a company domiciled abroad does not make the case for a second runway.”

Mr Herbert said the environmental impact of 250,000 more flights ‘has not been fully understood’.

The MP warns a second runway would add to development pressures in West Sussex ‘which are already acute’, as a county council study concluded jobs created by a new runway would require 30,000 to 45,000 new houses, equivalent to a new town the size of Crawley or 1,000 houses added to 40 villages.

The MP said residents: “Should be made fully aware that local plans which are already requiring controversial housing developments would have to be revised if a second runway were agreed; that villages would be required to take even more housing with more loss of countryside and green spaces; and that deeply unpopular proposed major developments such as the Mayfield new town would be more likely to win approval.

“I do not believe that significantly more housing than already planned could be allocated in West Sussex over the next two decades without fundamentally risking the rural character of much of our county and causing enormous public concern,” he added.

Speaking after Monday’s vote, Mr Herbert said: “The county council’s previous position was untenable and out of touch with local communities who are increasingly concerned about what a second runway would mean for aircraft noise and development.  

“I am glad that councillors have reversed the council’s stance.

“I was however bemused by the council’s claim that its position opposing expansion does not form part of their response to the consultation.  

“The council should be relaying its decision and reasons in the clearest terms to the Airports Commission and the government, and I hope that councillors will insist on this.  The decision must not be swept under the carpet.”