New storm blows up over Gatwick expansion plans

Gatwick's expansion proposals SUS-180312-162809001
Gatwick's expansion proposals SUS-180312-162809001

A new row has blown up over expansion proposals for Gatwick Airport.

Gatwick bosses say that a poll has revealed that an airport masterplan to increase use of the airport’s runways has won support from 74 per cent of residents in Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

But members of the campaign group Community Against Gatwick Noise Emissions - CAGNE - maintain that airport authorities have based the figure on flawed data.

The polling was commissioned by Gatwick Airport to gather the views of local residents following publication of its draft masterplan in October. The plan outlines how the airport could grow by bringing a standby runway into routine use; introduce new technology to increase capacity on the existing main runway; and to safeguard land to the south of the airport for the possible future building of a third runway.

But CAGNE members say that the poll was carried out in areas that are not overflown by aircraft. It has now written to the Civil Aviation Authority demanding that the public consultation be dismissed.

A spokesman said: “This whole process stinks. Residents thought that the airport expansion debate was over, that Heathrow had won, but here we are with Gatwick Airport seeking a second runway by the back door and deceiving local people and businesses to the true facts of what it will mean by Gatwick adding 70-95m passengers and tens of thousands of extra workers to the congested roads and single railway line that cannot be expanded.”

CAGNE says there is no funding for infrastructure, healthcare, schools, housing and industrial parks that the expansion would need.

But Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said that its poll results showed show that “an overwhelming majority of residents in Sussex, Surrey and Kent who were surveyed both support our plans for growth and recognise how important they are in terms of securing the region’s economic prosperity and new jobs for generations to come.

“Our draft masterplan sets out our vision for the airport’s sustainable growth into the 2030s and explains how it can meet the UK’s increasing demand for air travel and global connectivity.”