When there are huge matters at stake that will impact local communities forever, we need objective clarity, not obfuscation, questionable research and profit-driven propaganda directed from overseas.
Two Gatwick issues have collided this week that will add to the public confusion surrounding the real issues, i.e. noise, infrastructure and the economy. Gatwick feeds off confusion because it distracts us from the real issues, so we must beware.
The two colliding issues are, first, the hugely inadequate YouGov Poll on the proposed second runway, and the report in this newspaper headed ‘Horsham residents second most supportive in the region’. The other issue is Gatwick’s capitulation this week and its decision not to progress with the cynical proposal for massively disrupting low-level airspace changes to boost its profits.
The humiliating ‘U’ turn comes in the face of well-organised rural community opposition that galvanised communities both east and west of Gatwick.
Regarding the poll, can it be true that just 140 Horsham residents were questioned? If so, do 140 individuals, or 0.1 per cent of the local population, represent the ‘widespread view of people from across our local communities...’, that Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s CEO, proclaims in your newspaper?
Horsham is not affected by flight path noise, and has virtually no unemployment, plus it has a significant housing shortfall. So, why do 140 Horsham folk want a second runway on their doorstep?
Expanding Gatwick will need 122,000 additional people. How will Horsham benefit when it has just one per cent unemployment?
Where will they live when Horsham can hardly meet its current demands and every week this newspaper carries stories reporting opposition to new housing development in the area? And does the HDC housing and schooling development plans for the future anticipate a share of this additional need?
If they will not live in and around Horsham, then they will need to travel. It is estimated that this means 100,000 more vehicles a day on the local roads, and our rail system is already inadequate, according to recent surveys. Plus the additional 54 million passengers a year coming and going to achieve Gatwick’s target of 90 million people a year, up from its current 36 million.
So how do we see through this confusion and who do we believe?
Gatwick is controlled by a New York-based outfit, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). Its chairman and managing director, Adebayo Ogunlesi, reports to mostly off-shore shareholders. Their objective is simple: recurrent profit followed by a massive payout and shareholder dividend when they sell Gatwick to the highest bidder.
That is what these companies do. Any form of opposition is just a nuisance that has to be silenced, deceived or overridden, until the big pay day. That is why they spin confusion to detract us from the real issues.
As a business person, I find it hard to oppose business growth. But when it is growth for the sake of growth and at the expense of local communities that do not need it, nor could it digest it if it came, one has to think carefully.
That is why we need truthful, objective information. Not a commercial propaganda war between opposing commercial entities with very deep pockets to achieve their objectives one way or the other.