GATWICK and the Environment
The Society keeps a careful watch on all matters that could affect our environment and locally has taken a leading role in two anti runway campaigns. It also looks at matters regarding pollution, aircraft noise, traffic calming, encroachment on the ‘Strategic Gap’ which divides the village from the spread of airport buildings which now come right up to the village boundaries All this involves the writing of many letters to the relevant authorities, such as Government ministers, Gatwick airport and local Councils, each year. It subscribes to GACC, which provides invaluable support.
At the inaugural meeting of the Charlwood Society one of the speakers was Mr Morris of GANE on ‘Gatwick, Charlwood and Us’. His speech was minuted as thought provoking and a further comment was that it shook even the most complacent of us. The acknowledgement of the threat posed by the airport was prescient, given that it is now the busiest single-runway airport in the word with a through put of around 32 million passengers each year. Our environment is affected by airport created noise, pollution, traffic and activities overall within the airport close to the Parish boundaries. The Society made representation at two public inquiries into
expansion at Gatwick and firmly opposes any plans for a second runway. In his report on the RUCATSE proposals of 1993 Judge Newey wrote ‘The Assessors and my particular admiration was for the voluntary bodies, especially GACC, Charlwood Parish Council, the Charlwood Society, Hookwood Residents Association and NGAC’. In 1977 the Society was active in fighting proposals for a helicopter link between Gatwick and Heathrow (subsequently discontinued following the opening the M25).
All eleven MPs elected for the constituencies around Gatwick are opposed to a second runway. Most significant is the result from the marginal seat of Crawley (where a high proportion of the residents are employed directly or indirectly at the airport) – a dramatic win for the Conservative anti-runway candidate, the MP Henry Smith, but defeat for the pro-runway Labour candidate.
According to Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman: ‘This solid bloc of eleven anti-runway MPs will make it difficult for the new Government to push through a new Gatwick runway without the support of some minor Parties but the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens are all opposed.’Another reason why a Gatwick runway looks less likely is the surprise announcement on polling day by the Airports Commission that they are to hold another consultation – on air quality. This is obviously the result of the decision by the Supreme Court that the UK must implement the EU limits on air quality. That would seem to rule out a third
Heathrow runway, but it may also rule out a Gatwick runway. The EU law states that ‘Air quality status should be maintained where it is already good, or improved.’
GACC have pointed out that the increase in road traffic around Gatwick has been underestimated by the Commission because they have ignored induced and catalytic employment. The same point has been made by Transport for London.
The Airports Commission was expected to produce its report in June but this unexpected consultation may well mean a delay. ‘Unanswered questions about pollution and climate change mean that it is now time for the Commission to go back and re-assess the case for no new runway, as they were required to do.’
PRESS RELEASE 17 OCTOBER 2012
Gatwick runway impracticable
Gatwick Airport Ltd have put out a press release to say that they will be examining the options for a new runway at Gatwick. In response, Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC, said: ‘We have always been totally opposed to a new runway on environmental grounds, and have had massive support from across Surrey, Sussex and west Kent. We have been supported by all the local MPs and all the County, District and Parish Councils in a wide area. If necessary, we will resume the battle.
‘In fact all the options for a new runway have been examined many times before (1953, 1970, 1993 and 2003) and have always been found impracticable.
The line of the runway shown in the 2012 Master Plan (as referred to in the GAL press release, and for which land is at present safeguarded) is too close to the existing runway to allow a new terminal and space for aircraft to manoeuvre on the ground. That was the
view of British Airways. There is high ground at the western end and the main railway line at the eastern end, so the runway would have to be short. The runway would be only a few hundred yards north of Crawley residential areas.
More generally the expansion of aviation is largely due to the fact that aviation fuel is untaxed and air tickets are not subject to VAT (air passenger duty is small by comparison). And the sort of expansion which would require new runways would be ruled out by the UK's climate change targets. So we are doubtful whether any new runway will be required in the South East.
GAL have said they wish to sell Gatwick in around 2018, so they obviously wish to keep the price up by keeping the runway issue open. But if there were any serious plan for a new runway, GACC would mount a massive campaign of opposition.