LETTER: Conclusions will be a bodge-up

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Cllr Frances Haigh (WSCT 6/11/2014) said, ‘The Davies review is extremely thorough, taking evidence from many organisations and drawing conclusions so as to arrive at the best solution for the economy and the environment. None of us could possibly do the same exercise, so we have to trust that their recommendation is well founded’.

One doesn’t have to be old to have seen the ‘conclusions’ of numerous government sponsored reviews, investigations, enquiries and inquiries to know there is a good chance the conclusions of the Davies review will not be well founded - that is even assuming it is not biased (as seems increasingly to be the way) towards the commercial interests of big (tax avoiding) businesses and the personal interests of dominant members of the Government and their business-linked advisors, of whatever political party.

That aside, Cllr Haigh appears to be under the misapprehension that the remit of the Davies review was to ‘arrive at the best solution for the economy and the environment’ as a whole.

It was not. The ‘overarching objective was to identify and recommend to government options for maintaining the UK’s status as an international hub for aviation’ (see www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/11177/operating-protocols.pdf).

The Davies Commission was established to consider the best options for a UK hub airport and not the best use of existing nationally-distributed airport capacity. Under our London-centric government there was no consideration of how best to utilise existing national infrastructure - let alone to determine the best solution for the people, economy and environment of the UK as a whole.

Indeed, having now concluded there are only two hub options to consider (Heathrow or Gatwick) it was not until June this year that the commission published a discussion paper on the UK’s existing airport capacity and the domestic and international connectivity provided by regional airports (see www.gov.uk/government/news/airports-commission-publishes-discussion-on-the-uks-existing-airport-capacity).

That is why, via the Davies Commission, the government is doggedly pursuing an option to expand Heathrow or Gatwick (even at significant cost to passengers and local communities) when Gatwick has capacity for the foreseeable future, nearby airports like Luton and Stansted continue to operate well under capacity and Manston airport, which had considerable local support, has just been allowed to close.

(Business interests are bent on building something new, come what may and whatever the evidence as to need. Hence the attitude to Manston, which mirrors that of developers demanding new businesses parks in Horsham and the Gatwick Diamond area even as more and more existing office space becomes redundant.)

If ever, it will probably be years before the general public discover whether these limited and out-of-sequence Davies reviews were yet another demonstration of incompetence or an arrangement designed to achieve a pre-determined outcome.

In the meantime, based on past experiences, it seems likely the conclusions will be a bodge-up or a stitch-up (possibly both) and not necessarily in the best interests of the country as a whole, and (if Gatwick is nominated) certainly not in the best interests of Horsham or the other Gatwick environs.

Then we have the elephant in the room - the crucial need, especially by people in the ‘developed’ world, to cut back on the production of global warming greenhouse gasses.

In the EU, despite more fuel-efficient engines but because of a huge increase in holiday flights, greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by 87 per cent between 1990 and 2006 alone (seehttp://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-06-1862_en.htm).

Readers who want to know why Gatwick is big enough should refer to the Gatwick Area Conservation Group (www.gacc.org.uk/) and consider attending a major GACC meeting at the Apple Tree Centre, Ifield Avenue, Crawley, RH11 0AF at 2pm to 3.30pm on 22nd November. Ample parking. Doors open 1pm.

C. MORRIS

Tennyson Close, Horsham