Gatwick Airport’s bid for a second runway has entered a new phase with the launch of a public consultation over the contentious issue of where to build any new air strip.
While hundreds queued in Crawley to find out more at the first of 16 planned exhibitions, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign had already branded the consultation ‘plush but bogus’.
Its chair Brendon Sewill criticised the process for not giving the public a straightforward chance to say ‘no’. He said: “They’re frightened too many people would vote ‘No new runway’.”
The issue continues to divide opinion and drives a wedge through local party politics.
The Conservative MP for Mid Sussex Nicholas Soames states it is an ‘unavoidable fact that the construction of a second runway would have huge environmental impact with inevitably added noise pollution, further pressure on our already seriously over extended infrastructure, our schools, hospitals, roads and railways, and most especially on our precious countryside, which would, I believe, be completely unacceptable’.
However, the Conservative-led county council last July voted to support in principle the expansion of Gatwick Airport on economic grounds.
It is a position supported by the Burgess Hill-based chamber of commerce for Sussex, Sussex Enterprise, whose executive chairman Nick Handley told the Middy: “We believe a bigger Gatwick will encourage greater international trade and attract inward investment.”
Mid Sussex District Council is yet to determine its stance with Cllr Gary Marsh, cabinet member for Economic Development and Property saying: “I am discussing this consultation with district council colleagues and town and parish council partners and we will be making a response by May 16.
“I would also encourage local residents to make their views known to Gatwick Airport Limited direct.”
The options on which Gatwick is consulting for a new 3.4 km runway are; Option 1 – a new runway 585m south of the existing runway with one runway used for landings and the other used for take-offs; Option 2 – a new runway 1,045m south of the existing runway with one runway used for landings and the other used for take-offs, and a new terminal between the runways; Option 3 – a new runway 1,045m south of the existing runway with both runways used for landings and take-offs, and a new terminal between the runways.
Public consultation events are scheduled for Rusper, Smallfield, Ifield, Lingfield, Horsham, Crowborough, East Grinstead, Reigate, Crawley Down, Horley, Charlwood, Dorking, Edenbridge, Felbridge, and Epsom. For more details visit www.gatwickairport.com/consulation