Protesters join forces in a bid to make airport come clean on expansion plans

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They have ‘unified’ under the banner Gatwick’s Big Enough [GBE] and are coming together in Penshurst Church on Friday [November 1] at 8pm.
The purpose of the meeting, which is open to the public, is to provide information about the aviation hub’s plans, what GBE will be doing about them and how people can help. Tom Tugendhat, the MP for Tonbridge & Malling, is the guest speaker.
GBE says that the expansion will have serious noise, climate change and congestion impacts, which the airport is trying to hide, and that its effects will not be adequately scrutinised.
Gatwick released its final Master Plan in July, having put out a draft for consultation a year ago. It proposed to make use of its emergency runway for regular departures – and a potential third runway.
A legal agreement which prevents the airport from using both existing runways simultaneously has now expired.
The plans envisage a 40 per cent increase in flights and a 53 per cent increase in passenger numbers – they are set to rise from 45.7million in 2017-18 to 70million by 2032.
Heathrow beat Gatwick in a bid to be allowed to build an extra runway in 2018 as the government looked for ways to increase capacity in the South East. 
Protests have centred on the issue of overflight and the aircraft noise blighting a swathe of communities across the South East including Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge.
Now the group says the airport has not disclosed the emissions generated by the new flights and is using the wrong measure for noise pollution.
It also says Gatwick has found a way to avoid scrutiny of the effects of well over half of its expansion.
GBE organiser Charles Lloyd, a joint founder of Penshurst’s Gatwick Obviously Not who sits on various national community aviation bodies,  told the Times: “We want to make people aware of the impacts Gatwick is trying to hide. The airport’s Master Plan uses very selective data.
“For example, it completely ignores the extra 1millon tons of carbon dioxide emissions that expansion would generate each year.
“On noise, the Master Plan says there will be more flights but that this will be balanced by the fact that aircraft will be quieter.
“But the new aircraft on which Gatwick is pinning its noise reduction hopes will only be two decibels quieter on arrival. That is imperceptible to the human ear – but a 40 per cent increase in flights is very perceptible.
“What Gatwick has done is choose a metric – average noise – that allows it to tell a story it thinks will be acceptable, but which bears no relationship to the way people experience noise.”
He added: “It’s clear that the picture Gatwick is painting of the effects its growth would have on communities and the environment is very different to the reality.
“That might not matter if Gatwick’s data was going to be challenged through a robust planning process. But in large part the data won’t be challenged.”
Gatwick is applying for a Development Consent Order to allow it to use both existing runways, but 60 per cent of the additional traffic will come from more intensive use of the main one.
The company claims no planning or other forms of consent are required for growth on the main runway – only the 40 per cent on the emergency runway.
The campaign group said ‘growth without proper scrutiny and analysis of the facts is not acceptable.
“We’re asking local people, councils and MPs to tell the airport and the government that these proposals must be fully reviewed through an independent planning process.”
Martin Barraud, Chair of GON, said: “There’s a great danger we are sleepwalking into an environmental disaster for this area.
“It’s critical that we wake everyone up to the potential onslaught from the air. Please do come and hear all about it on November 1.”
Mr Lloyd briefed the Minister for Aviation last week, as well as the MPs’ Coordination Group and the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee.

Gatwick’s Big Enough is a combination of eight campaign groups: Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (affected areas), Gatwick Obviously Not (West Kent), Tunbridge Wells Anti Aviation Noise Group (Tunbridge Wells), Plane Wrong (north of Gatwick), Association of Parish Councils Aviation Group, People Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (both west of Gatwick), East Sussex Communities for the Control of Air Noise (Crowborough), High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group (West Kent and beyond).

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