LETTER: Runway options ruled out too fast

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Referring to the County Times Comment on options for airport expansion.

The Thames Estuary, Fairford, or Stansted options - with lower impact on health and productivity - might have justified their extra cost, in the longer term. But sadly they were discarded too quickly.

Also Heathrow is an international hub with freight handling, diverse transport links, and closer to England’s centre of gravity and Gatwick is a different animal.

The population density around Heathrow is of course higher but, since noise levels are already high, the impact from additional flights should have less of an impact on people and animals. Noise levels around Gatwick are of course much lower and the impact (for a given increase in noise dB levels) will be much more - and from noisier planes operating below Heathrow flight paths.

We understand that a Heathrow runway extension would offer more bang for buck than Gatwick 2, presumably with bigger taxable revenue streams (since Gatwick backers seem to be largely from abroad, it would be nice to know how much profit will be funnelled overseas).

Of course Heathrow will have connections to Crossrail, HS2, plus underground and overground systems, whereas transport systems around Gatwick would be seriously challenged and it would cost some £billions to upgrade them.

Yes, the Gatwick developer would make a contribution, but that would hardly fund a mile or two of M25 upgrading. It is inconceivable that the funding gap could be filled by S106 and CIL payments alone – when we know that in Horsham District alone there is already a big gap.

Also, since a mainly low cost workforce is involved, many would probably commute in - further increasing traffic volumes. That in itself suggests that S106 and CIL funding around GTW would be limited, in turn widening infrastructure funding gaps.

Thus most of the infrastructure improvements, arising from a second Gatwick runway, would probably have to be funded over time from higher fares, or taxes - with local residents picking up much of the tab.

So a second Gatwick runway would most likely lead to unnecessary overloading of rail and road networks, of NHS facilities and schools, with more congestion and pollution - and with more people exposed to lengthy ambulance response times.

Howard Davies has compared the Heathrow and Gatwick options and his conclusions were by no means surprising.

Let us hope that the Prime Minister will now allow a free vote in the Commons and that the decision will be driven by the balance of economic need, rather than by short-term political jockying.


Melrose Place, Storrington


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