A new runway at Gatwick is the most popular choice of airport expansion for the South East, according to a survey of West Sussex businesses and residents.
West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council presented the findings of an independent survey they commissioned to find out what people thought about airport expansion at a meeting last week.
QA Research, a national company experienced in carrying out bespoke surveys for private, public and voluntary sectors, called 1,000 residents and 621 businesses asking them a range of questions on their air travel usage, whether they thought airport expansion was necessary and where it should go.
It found that 49 per cent of residents and 71 per cent of businesses cited Gatwick as their preferred location. The remaining 51 and 29 per cent were split between Stansted, Heathrow, a new airport in the Thames or elsewhere or could not decide.
Just three per cent of residents and two per cent of businesses said they did not want more capacity or refused to choose.
Reasons for expansion included it was in the interest of local people to make their air travel faster with more choice and it would be a boost for the local economy.
The survey shows the public favour expansion, but councillors hearing the results remained resolute to submitting a response to the Airports Commission that was best for the town and county.
Crawley Borough Council cabinet member for planning and economic development Cllr Claire Denman said: “Gatwick is one subject that really has divided Crawley. Last time we had a survey it was more or less 50-50. Our job is to make a decision with all the evidence. This is one part of that.
“What’s going to be the impact on housing growth? We are a local authority built up to the boundaries. If you then put into the mix economic growth of Gatwick, there’s a direct relationship between employment growth and economic growth.”
She said environmental constraints, impact on infrastructure as well as the economic benefits would all be taken into account in the council’s submission.