MPs and campaigners warn of Gatwick expansion
25th July 2019
TENS of thousands of extra planes could soon be flying over Tunbridge Wells each year and prove to be ‘a significant further threat’ to the environment of the town and the surrounding countryside.
That’s the view of those campaigning against plans to open a second runway at Gatwick.
Last week, the airport announced it is to press on with plans to use its current standby runway into a second departure route by mid-2020 following the end of its consultation period.
Gatwick’s ‘master plan’ will enable the airport to service 55,000 more passengers each year.
Opponents say the move will see departure traffic increase by 36 per cent, leading to more than 100,000 extra flights travelling along the airport’s departure routes, flying either west over Surrey, or east over Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells.
“It is a second runway by stealth,” said campaigner Sally Pavel, who chairs CAGNE [Community Against Gatwick Noise Emissions].
She added: “It will see more aircraft over the departure routes – a 36 per cent increase in aircraft numbers is huge. Currently there are around 283,000 flights a year, this would see an extra 100,000 departures.”
Tunbridge Wells Anti-Aircraft Noise Group [TWAANG] added that the plans posed ‘a significant further threat to Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding area’.
“Those on the West side of town such as Langton Green, Rusthall and Speldhurst have already experienced greatly increased disturbance from Gatwick since 2013 and this will extend into the town with the increase in flights as the volume forces arriving aircraft Eastwards,” said a spokesman.
He continued: “Tunbridge Wells is an attractive town surrounded by some wonderful countryside. This is in danger of being spoiled even further by Gatwick’s excessive ambitions.”
The airport, which French firm Vinci Airports bought a majority stake at the beginning of this year for £2.9billion say the plans were necessary to meet demand.
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick’s global connections are needed more than ever.”
He added that the master plan had received ‘strong support’ from the 5,000 responses they received during their consultation period.
MPs: carbon emissions will increase
The Gatwick plans have been roundly criticised by a group of MPs including Greg Clark, and Tom Tugendhat.
In an open letter, also signed by MPs Sir Paul Beresford [Mole Valley], Crispin Blunt [Reigate], Gillian Keegan [Chichester] and Sir Nicholas Soames [Mid Sussex], they 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 the airport.”
They continued: “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.”