Health problems and transport trouble: criticism of Gatwick’s two new runways

Health problems and transport trouble: criticism of Gatwick’s two new runways

by Andy Tong | 24th July 2019

LOCAL MPs and pressure groups around Tonbridge have reacted with dismay at the news that Gatwick Airport is to make use of its emergency runway for regular departures and is also planning a third strip.

The West Sussex transport hub said it would be seeking planning permission to widen the runway by 12 metres to allow it to operate a full passenger timetable by the mid-2020s.

A legal agreement which prevents the airport from using both existing runways simultaneously is due to expire later this year. Now Gatwick is applying for a Development Consent Order to do so.

Heathrow Airport beat Gatwick in a bid to be allowed to build an additional runway as the government looked for ways to increase airport capacity in the South East. The decision was confirmed last year in Parliament.

'Gatwick’s proposals would mean more carbon emissions, faster climate change, more noise, more health problems for local people and more congestion'

Gatwick claims its ‘master plan’ is in accordance with the policy of ‘making best use of existing runways’ – and wants land to be safeguarded for a third runway.

The proposals come in the aftermath of a 12-week public consultation which began last October. According to Gatwick’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, two thirds of the 5,000 responses showed ‘strong support for Gatwick and the local area’s ambitions’.

Gatwick is aiming to increase the number of people who use the airport from 45.7million people per annum [MPPA] in 2017-18 to 61million by 2032.

But Charles Lloyd of the Penshurst campaign Gatwick Obviously Not [GON] told the Times: “There is no case for further growth at Gatwick.

“Gatwick’s proposals would mean more carbon emissions, faster climate change, more noise, more health problems for local people and more congestion.

“The country has woken up to the environmental damage aviation is causing.

‘There has been absolutely no work done on the noise impact of a 40 per cent growth of the airport for our communities’

“Instead of pursuing growth that accelerates these impacts, the airport, and the wider aviation industry, should focus on reducing the environmental damage they cause in a serious, sustained way.”

He added: “Further growth at Gatwick is simply not consistent with the UK’s climate change commitments and the climate emergency Parliament has declared. Gatwick’s big enough already.”

The MP for Tonbridge & Malling Tom Tugendhat echoed the environmental concerns, saying: “Gatwick’s expansion plans would mean more noise, more carbon emissions, faster climate change and more health problems for our community.”

He was critical of the lack of progress being made to lessen the impact of Gatwick’s aim of increasing passenger capacity by 40 per cent.

'We have seen how the slightest change in the air can result in significant changes to noise contours, so the impact for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and surrounding villages could be greater still'

“There has been absolutely no work done on the noise impact of a 40 per cent growth of the airport for our communities,” he said.

“We have seen how the slightest change in the air can result in significant changes to noise contours, so the impact for Tonbridge, Edenbridge and surrounding villages could be greater still.

“That’s why I am opposed to this plan and have joined other MPs in writing to the Secretary of State [Chris Grayling] to make him aware that we will do all we can to prevent this moving forward.”

The Gatwick Coordination Group of six MPs – Mr Tugendhat, Tunbridge Wells’ Greg Clark, Sir Paul Beresford [Mole Valley], Crispin Blunt [Reigate], Gillian Keegan [Chichester] and Sir Nicholas Soames [Mid Sussex] – co-signed a statement expressing concern about the impact on the environment and local infrastructure.

It said: “Over the past few years Gatwick Airport has continually under-invested in the local amenities and social infrastructure that would be required to support a project of this size and scale.

“We cannot support expansion of the airport without a comprehensive investment in the local area which would ease pressure on the over-stretched road and rail systems serving it.”

It added: “At a time of increasing concern about the environmental impact of global aviation growth, the proposed expansion plans would see a marked increase in carbon emissions, with clearer environmental consequences for us all.

“We should not be looking at unchecked expansion at our local airports but seeking managed growth that is proportionate to our other national priorities.”

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