Campaigners: Gatwick Airport has had ‘woeful week’

W29508H13''Gatwick Airport Feature. Planes SUS-141104-153945001
W29508H13''Gatwick Airport Feature. Planes SUS-141104-153945001

Campaigners fighting Gatwick’s expansion have said the airport has had a ‘woeful week’.

Dozens of councils have responded to the consultation by the Airports Commission which ended on Tuesday - opposing the plans for a second runway.

A spokesman for the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign said: “This level of opposition is a major set-back for Gatwick Airport Ltd. If the local councils had supported a second runway that would have had a significant impact on the thinking of the Airports Commission.

“Now the united opposition will make some doubt if Gatwick could ever raise the money to build the runway.”

Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said: “This has been a woeful week for Gatwick.

“Virtually every county council, borough council and district council around Gatwick has voted to oppose a new runway. So have virtually every town and parish Council.

“So have virtually all the local Members of Parliament. The most woeful blow for Gatwick came when easyJet, Gatwick’s biggest airline, announced that it is opposing a new Gatwick runway.”

“After this week the whole Gatwick project is in doubt. All their brash advertising has been pricked like a balloon at a children’s party.”

Airline British Airways has also opposed Gatwick’s expansion plans.

The campaign group added that the eventual cost of the new runway could be twice as high as previously thought at an estimated £19.3 billion – most of which would ‘fall on the tax payer’. The estimated cost includes widening the M25 and the M23 and building a new underground station at East Croydon with a rail tunnel to London.

In the consultation response, the group emphasised the environmental damage with around 100,000 more vehicles on the roads when the airport was operating at capacity.

The report also states 90,000 more passengers will be using the trains every day.

CPRE Sussex

The Sussex branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England has strongly welcomed decisions by many Sussex councils to vote against a second runway at Gatwick and is urging others to “wake up” to the threat.

CPRE’s response to the Airport Commission’s latest round of consultations, warns that the proposal would have a “devastating impact” on the countryside and highlights the damage it would do to quality of life across Sussex.

“A second runway at Gatwick would undoubtedly change our countryside for ever, and not for the better,” says CPRE Sussex Trustee, Justin French-Brooks. “The tranquil and unspoilt places across Sussex that so many of us treasure would be in danger of being overwhelmed by aircraft noise, traffic and development.”

However, Mr French Brooks is warning that some local councils do not appear to appreciate the far reaching and damaging implications of a Gatwick expansion.

East Sussex County Council bucked the trend by controversially backing the proposal last week, with members voting 27 to 19 in favour.

“While we’re delighted that many of our local councillors are beginning to recognise just how unwelcome Gatwick’s proposals are,” said Mr French Brooks, “some continue to ignore the threat of urban sprawl, grinding traffic and poor air quality, not to mention the pressure on already-strained schools, hospitals and infrastructure.”

Gatwick consultation: MPs and Mid Sussex councillors reject new runway plans