A second runway at Gatwick would bring ‘no benefits to Horsham’ according to residents at a North Horsham Parish Council meeting on Tuesday.
Although poorly attended the gathering, held at North Heath Hall to give residents a chance to share their views on expansion at the airport, saw all speakers argue strongly against a second runway. Potential increases in noise and air pollution, as well as airport expansion’s impact on infrastructure such as roads, rail links, and access to hospitals were discussed.
One Horsham resident said: “All these problems with Gatwick Airport, what are the benefits we will have in this area? It has one of the highest standards of living in the country, all we can do is ruin it. There’s no benefit for us and we should vote against it.”
Another argued it was ‘fanciful’ to think that existing road and rail capacity problems would go away if a second runway went ahead.
Sally Pavey, chair of Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE), formed in February 2014 to fight against trial flight paths sending planes over Warnham and the surrounding villages, said: “What we are talking about is transforming this area when you answer the Airports Commission’s questions.
“It’s a case of do you want to urbanise this rural area?”
She urged people to write into the Airports Commission, which they can do as long as they provide their name and address, and said flights could increase from 250,000 to 560,000 a year if a second runway was built, leading to the creation of new flight paths out of the airport.
Roger Arthur, a Horsham district councillor and UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Horsham in the upcoming General Election, raised concerns over the transport network’s ability to cope, with funding for infrastructure increasingly difficult to secure.
Peter Burgess, a Horsham district and North Horsham parish councillor, added: “The major point is we have got it wrong. Gatwick is out of the frame, there’s no way we can build an extra runway there because the infrastructure would simply not be able to take it.”
Parish councillor Nik Butler raised the issue of air quality and felt that with or without expansion at Gatwick it was beginning to become a concern in the area, while James Smith, standing for Something New for Horsham in this year’s General Election, argued against any airport expansion in the country as it would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
At the end of the meeting Roger Wilton, chairman of North Horsham Parish Council, said: “It’s fairly overwhelming. Nobody at the meeting is for the proposition [of a second runway] and I’m pretty sure that’s how the planning committee will be responding to the document.”
The council’s Planning Environment and Transport Committee considered its response to the Airports Commission on Thursday January 15.