Delay on runway expansion is ‘wrong call’

Gatwick Airport control tower with aircraft in flight in background SUS-150705-150051001
Gatwick Airport control tower with aircraft in flight in background SUS-150705-150051001

A local MP has criticise the Government’s decision to delay a verdict on an expansion at either Gatwick Airport or Heathow.

The Government were due to make a decision earlier this month on which airport would be allowed to build a new runway.

But on Friday (December 11) officials announced the decision would now not be made until next summer after the Government ordered a new study be carried out on the environmental impacts the expansion would have at both airports.

Horsham MP Jeremy Quin said the Government had made the ‘wrong call’ to delay the decision.

He said he ‘wholeheartedly endorsed’ a statement released by South Downs MP Nick Herbert on behalf of the Gatwick Coordination Group of MPs, of which he is a member.

The statement reads: “Let’s stop pretending that the Airports Commission offered ministers options - it didn’t. The Commission made an unequivocal recommendation for Heathrow.

“It said that Gatwick would deliver half the economic benefit, has insufficient transport connections especially to the north, and would fail to provide the hub airport which Britain needs.

“Keeping a sub-optimal choice of Gatwick alive just so as to delay an inevitable decision on Heathrow blights local communities, helps no-one and risks reflecting badly on us.

“Five months have now elapsed since the Commission produced its report. We can’t credibly talk about a long-term economic plan, or taking decisions in the national interest, if we then run away from the big tests.

“The Government set up this Commission. The recommendation is clear. It’s time to get on with it.”

(Other members of the group include Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley, Nusrat Ghani, MP for Wealden, Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, Sir Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex and Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Mailling.)

Mr Quin said: “I believe delaying a decision is the wrong call. Its not in the national interest and it prolongs for many local people the lack of certainty on a profoundly important issue.

“Local people want a decision so they can get on with their lives without the threat of an additional runway hanging over them.

“However given that the Government has decided to look into air quality it is important they do so properly.”

Mr Quin said he had spoken to the Secretary of State for Transport about the problems of transport links at Gatwick and the negative effects expanding the airport would have on the environment.

He added: “The new runway requires tens of thousands of new employees. Heathrow has them on its doorstep, Gatwick doesn’t – they would have to travel long distances to get to their place of work.

“The Government must, if it is to look seriously at air quality, recognise that Gatwick with a second runway would be busier than Heathrow but will be vastly more dependent on cars.”

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