GACC warns of widespread blight being caused by runway proposals submitted to Airports Commission

Gatwick Airport are due to publish their plans for a new runway by the Airports Commission deadline of 19th July.  GACC, the main environmental community group concerned with the airport, warn that the runway proposal will result in widespread blight in the area. Thousands of people will find tens of thousands of pounds is knocked off the value of their houses, which will be hard to sell except at a substantial loss.  “Working men and women will find themselves unable to move to take up a new job; retired couples will find their hopes dashed of moving to a smaller house in another area.  Anxiety will be caused to thousands of people and some may be driven to desperation.” In the days of BAA there was a Property Market Support Bond, so the airport would buy houses at the pre-blight price.  The airport now says that scheme is under review and nothing will be decided until the Airports Commission reports in 2015. GACC says this demonstrates a callous disregard for the local community. GACC has asked the Commission to insist that all airports which are due to put forward plans for new runways should introduce a scheme for dealing with blight.

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Blight Warning

1.7.2013 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) are due to publish their plans for a new runway on, or shortly before, 19 July.[1]  The result will be to cause widespread blight with thousands of people finding tens of thousands of pounds knocked off the value of their houses.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of GACC, said:  ‘People will be unable to sell their houses except at a substantial loss.  Working men and women will find themselves unable to move to take up a new job; retired couples will find their hopes dashed of moving to a smaller house in another area.  Anxiety will be caused to thousands of people and some may be driven to desperation.’

BAA, the former owners of Gatwick, had a scheme, the Property Market Support Bond, in place so that homeowners close to the new runway could obtain a legal promise that, if a runway went ahead, the airport would buy their house at the pre-blight price.  GACC has asked GAL to re-instate that scheme and to extend it to a far wider area – it only covered about 280 houses.

But GAL’s response has been to say that the scheme is under review and nothing will be decided until the Airports Commission reports in 2015.[2]  According to Sewill: ‘When Gatwick is pushing so hard for a new runway that attitude demonstrates a callous disregard for the local community.’

GACC met Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, on Monday 24 June.   Sir Howard expressed considerable interest in the subject of blight, and GACC told him about the negative attitude of GAL.  GACC has asked the Commission to insist that all airports which are due to put forward plans for new runways should introduce a scheme for dealing with blight.

Blight – more information.

GACC reckons that blight could affect over 10,000 houses (30,000 people).  That is the number that may fall within the 54 leq contour for a new runway, ie the number which would be affected by severe or moderate noise annoyance.[3]   Blight would also be caused to those local businesses which depend on peace and quiet, such as golf courses, country house hotels, outdoor attractions etc, and to churches and other public buildings which may not be able to obtain grants for essential maintenance or improvement while the uncertainty persists.

Indeed the extent of blight could be much wider, and could affect properties in local towns such as Horsham, Dorking, Reigate, Redhill, Oxted, and East Grinstead, when Gatwick Airport publish the new flight paths from the proposed runway.  GACC might be accused of worsening the situation by recently publishing maps[4] showing the possible new flight paths from a new runway – ‘Not so,’ said Sewill,  the blight will be caused by the runway plans, and by the airport not telling the truth about what they would entail.’

The Property Market Support Bond was originally suggested by GACC in the 1990s.  It is ingenious in that it would cost the airport nothing (apart from administration) because it is not payable until a new runway is built, and is then no more than would be payable under the Land Compensation Act.  But the possession of a legal promise to pay the inflation-adjusted pre-blight price would help people to sell their houses during the intervening period.

When the airport publish their new runway plans they should come clean about where the new flight paths will be.  The Support Bond should be extended to all properties likely to be blighted – up to fifteen miles or twenty miles from the airport.[5]  Gatwick Airport Ltd should also provide substantial grants for repairs to public buildings where uncertainty causes normal funding to dry up.[6]  It is important to prevent the area around Gatwick becoming blighted and run-down.

 

 

 

 

 


[1]   The final day for submitting plans to the Airports Commission

[2]   Correspondence between GACC and GAL is available for inspection but not for direct quotation.

[3]   Figure given in Gatwick Master Plan July 2012 page 125

[4]   See www.gacc.org.uk/latest-news    GACC made it clear that the maps were illustrative not definitive.

[5]   The map published in the Gatwick Master Plan 2012 shows that, with a new runway, the 54 leq contour (moderate annoyance) would extend 20 km east and west, but blight, caused by uncertainty, will extend further.

[6]   Any such grants would be a tiny fraction of the profit GAL hope to make by selling the airport with permission for a new runway.

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GACC is the main environmental body concerned with Gatwick.  Founded in 1968, we have as members nearly 100 Borough, District and Parish Councils and environmental groups covering about a  twenty miles radius from the airport.  Our committee, elected annually, represents all areas. Because we rely on rational argument and put forward constructive solutions  we have had strong support in Parliament and at every level of government.

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Earlier news:

Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick says (surprise) A SECOND RUNWAY ‘IS RIGHT FOR GATWICK’

31.5.2013
Chief executive officer at Gatwick Airport Stewart Wingate believes building a second runway at the site would be the “right thing for the region”.  His comments came during the recent Gatwick Diamond Economic Growth Forum, which was aimed at giving business leaders an opportunity to talk about factors that are affecting their firms, the Crawley and Horley Observer reports.  Mr Wingate feels that extending Gatwick is the most suitable solution. ”We think if we play our cards right then there’s no reason when we get into 2015 we should not be in pole position as the best option,” he was quoted as saying.
Gatwick is certainly getting busier and airport chiefs recently predicted that more than 790,000 passengers would fly from the facility during the May half-term holiday. link

Illustrative flight path maps of a 2nd Gatwick runway cause consternation – and show impact on AONBs

May 31, 2013      The maps showing the probable new flight paths if there were to be a new runway at Gatwick have caused widespread consternation. These were produced by GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) in mid May. GACC has received many enquiries from councillors surprised that their areas are likely to be affected. These include anxious queries from people who live in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which surround Gatwick on three sides. GACC has now also published new maps showing the impact of the probable new flight paths on the AONBs. ‘These areas are recognised nationally as places of beauty and peace,’ said Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman. ‘They are visited by over a million people each year in search of quiet relaxation. All the AONBs are on high ground and therefore the impact of aircraft noise is greater.’ When Gatwick Airport claim that ‘only’ 29,000 people would be affected by noise from a new runway, and that this is fewer than at Heathrow, they ignore the impact on the million or so people who enjoy the peace of the AONBs.     Click here to view full story…

 

 

GACC reveals indicative flight paths for a 2nd Gatwick runway, showing new areas overflown

May 17, 2013     Maps illustrating probable flight paths from a new Gatwick runway have been produced by the local community group, GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign). The maps have been designed with a knowledge of the principles of air space design and aeronautical principles, and have been checked out with an air traffic control expert. The maps show the new departure routes as likely to cause disturbance in Horsham, East Grinstead, Dorking, Reigate and many villages which are at present not overflown. The arrival routes are shown as covering most of Sussex. Brendon Sewill, Chairman of GACC said of the new maps that “If Gatwick Airport Ltd don’t like them it is up to them to produce their own maps.” The problem with a 2nd runway and hence huge increase in the number of flights, is that If flight paths are to be designed to minimise the risk of accidents flight paths will need to go over areas at present peaceful. The maps are based on a so-called ‘wide-spaced’ runway 1,035 m to the south of the existing one. With planes landing and taking off on each runway, there need to be 2 parallel tracks some 1,035 m apart and flight paths would need to be designed to avoid mid-air collisions.   Click here to view full story…

 

 

Gatwick airport employs PR agencies to help sway opinion in favour of 2nd runway

February 5, 2013    Gatwick Airport has brought in Fishburn Hedges (a corporate PR agency) and the London Communications Agency on an integrated PR and public affairs brief, in order to try to drum up support for building a 2nd runway. Both agencies will work directly with the airport’s communications staff. They will be aiming to work at the local and regional level to “engage key stakeholders in London and West Sussex.” Gatwick is currently developing detailed expansion plans that could double the airport’s annual capacity to around 70 million passengers and will submit its case to the Airports Commission shortly.  Local campaigners have fought the threat of a second runway for years, as it would have seriously negative environmental and quality of life impacts for the area. Gatwick is legally prevented from starting a 2nd runway before 2019.    Click here to view full story…

 

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