A second runway at Gatwick ‘would be a disaster’ for the surrounding area according to a group of Conservative MPs from Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
The five backbenchers have established the Gatwick Coordination Group (GCG) to highlight ‘serious local concern’ about proposed expansion at the airport, which they feel will devastate the environment and leave the UK with its major airport in the wrong place.
The option of a second runway along with a third runway at Heathrow was shortlisted by the Davies Commission, which is looking into airport capacity in the South East, late last year.
It is due to give a recommendation to central Government after the 2015 General Election.
The GCG includes Sir Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex, Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley, Sir John Stanley, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, and Charles Hendry, MP for Wealden.
A statement from the group said: “We believe that the building of a second runway at Gatwick Airport would be a disaster for the surrounding communities and environment.
“The level of development, associated with an airport serving nearly three times as many passengers as it does now, would devastate the local environment and leave the UK with its major airport in the wrong place.
“There is also no adequate plan yet presented to provide the necessary infrastructure, of all types, to support this development.
“The size of the Gatwick site only lends itself to a single runway airport, serving as a sensible, competitive alternate to London’s main hub airport.
“While they pursue that objective, Gatwick Airport Limited will have our support, but this proposal is not in the local interest, nor is it in the national interest, and this group will work to prove that case.”
Neither Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, or Francis Maude, MP for Horsham, has endorsed the statement.
Mr Smith said: “I was invited and attended the Gatwick Coordination Group meeting in Parliament last week but declined to endorse their press release because, whilst I think Gatwick needs to make a stronger case on how it would invest in upgrading Crawley’s infrastructure if the airport were to expand, I think it premature to rule out an additional runway until the Davies Commission investigating aviation capacity has reported next year.”
Meanwhile since Mr Maude, as minister for the cabinet office, holds a position in Government it is unlikely that he will be free under ministerial collective responsibility to take a different line even though for many years he has vigorously opposed a second runway.
Gatwick is currently consulting on future flight path options in and out of the airport.
For more information visit www.gatwickairport.com/gatwickairspaceconsultation