Packed seminar confirms opposition to any new Gatwick runway
A packed seminar organised jointly by CPRE Surrey, CPRE Sussex and GACC on 25th October examined the arguments for and against a new runway at Gatwick. Some 150 representatives of county councils, borough, district and parish councils, planning officers and other experts, the Wildlife Trusts, plus four local MPs and one Member of the European Parliament, crowded into the conference centre at the Stanhill Court Hotel. There was also support from national representatives from WWF, and the National Trust. The opening speech was made by Cabinet member, Rt Hon Francis Maude, who said that the voice of opposition ‘needed to be heard with clarion certainty.’ Great concern was expressed about drawing more workers and passengers from around the country, climate change, increased noise, the impact of 40,000 extra houses, the pressure on schools, hospitals, local road and rail services. Also the recent unconventional decision by West Sussex council to support a new runway, on which the public had not been consulted. A resolution that “Those here would oppose any new runway at Gatwick airport” was passed with overwhelming support.
Seminar confirms opposition to new Gatwick runway
A packed seminar organised jointly by CPRE Surrey, CPRE Sussex and GACC on 25 October examined the arguments for and against a new runway at Gatwick.
150 representatives of county councils, borough and district councils and parish councils, together with, planning officers and other experts, plus four local MPs and one Member of the European Parliament, crowded into the conference centre at the Stanhill Court Hotel. There was also support from national representatives from WWF, the Wildlife Trusts and the National Trust.
The opening speech was made by Cabinet member, Rt Hon Francis Maude, who said that the voice of opposition ‘needed to be heard with clarion certainty.’
Great concern was expressed about drawing more workers and passengers from around the country, climate change, increased noise, the impact of 40,000 extra houses, the pressure on schools, hospitals, local road and rail services.
A resolution that “Those here would oppose any new runway at LGW” was passed with overwhelming support.
The event was supported with a grant from the Lush charitable fund.
Seminar held jointly by GACC, CPRE Surrey and CPRE Sussex
on Friday 25 October
A short report on the meeting:
Local and national concern at a proposal by Gatwick Airport Limited for a second runway was much in evidence at a high-profile seminar on Friday, where a packed house gathered to examine its potentially devastating consequences and discuss how it can be challenged.
Organised jointly by GACC, CPRE Surrey and CPRE Sussex, the event was particularly well attended by influential policy makers, with four MPs and one MEP actively participating. Over thirty local councillors of all the major parties also contributed, with Cllr Helyn Clack of Surrey County Council in the Chair.
The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP
The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP gave the keynote speech, in which he referred to his previous role as chairman of the Gravetye Group, a body that brought together MPs for all affected constituencies, concerned local authorities and GACC, to oppose previous proposals for Gatwick expansion.
Mr Maude acknowledged the role of the airport as a serious motor of the local economy, and his strong support for its expansion as single-runway airport. This view having until recently been shared by all MPs and local authorities, he expressed his surprise at WSCC’s decision to support a second runway, a decision he did not consider to signal public acquiescence. Mr Maude referred to Nicholas Soames MP, who had written to Sir Howard Davies saying he should not make any assumption that local opposition has in any way dissipated.
Mr Maude went on to remind those present that the Airports Commission had been established by government to resolved the difficult question of where additional runway capacity for the south east should be located, with many contentious issues still to be canvassed. For example, pressure for new housing was already intense and highly controversial. He emphasised that perceptions matter, and the Commission would look at the level of local opposition or support – those who oppose the second runway should make their voices heard “with clarion certainty”.
During open forum discussion, several speakers agreed that Gatwick should be supported as a single-runway airport, but believed that the proposals for a second runway represented pure financial opportunism. The damage an additional runway would cause to the area was of great concern, affecting the environment and many other quality-of-life aspects. The view was expressed that Gatwick Airport Limited’s long-term vision might be good for London and for big business, but would bring jobs to an area of the country that had no real unemployment, at the expense of growth and jobs in the rest of UK. New runways in the south east would make matters worse.
Crispin Blunt MP argued in favour of an estuary airport, in recognition that more people will want to fly to London from developing countries in coming decades and the city’s status as a great global city. [This did not receive much support – putting the misery onto other people to save yourselves is not the right solution].
Whether there was a genuine need for greater runway capacity in the south east became a central issue during the debates. Keith Taylor MEP questioned why the Airports Commission had already “pre-concluded” the need for growth, just so that passengers would not be inconvenienced. While Howard Davies had acknowledged the climate impacts of aviation, he “conveniently then dismissed it”. Mr Taylor argued that predict-and-provide had been proven not to work, and no case had been presented demonstrating the need for any growth in aviation. Those living in the region should come above business interest.
Tim Johnson, Director of the Aviation Environment Federation
Tim Johnson focused on the environmental impact of a second runway, recalling that the UK has a tough climate change law requiring a reduction in carbon emissions of 80% by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change had concluded that if other parts of industry reduced their emissions, then aviation could continue to grow provided it kept its emissions at 2005 levels. Consequently, aviation could not be allowed unrestricted expansion – it had to put the brakes put on and grow more slowly, and under this scenario capacity already existed to cater for the demand that exists, looking at London as a system of airports.
Despite this Howard Davies presumed that the south east still needed new runway capacity. Mr Johnson argued that locking ourselves into providing a new runway in the hope that industry would provide answers to carbon reduction was wholly unrealistic.
He continued by addressing the noise issue, with evidence that people exposed to airport noise are annoyed by it at much lower levels than previously realised, reacting to the number of noise events, the time of day and tranquillity disruption. These had potentially serious health implications that were little discussed, and worryingly between four and five times more people would be affected by aircraft noise than currently if a second runway were built.
Tim Harrold, Chairman CPRE Surrey Aviation Group
Tim Harrold addressed the infrastructure implications of a second runway at Gatwick, emphasising how important the airport’s impacts were to the work of all three affected CPRE branches (Surrey, Sussex and Kent), who were supported at the event by Sean Spiers, Chief Executive of CPRE nationally.
Mr Harrold emphasised that Surrey is already the most “overflown” county in the country, and that Gatwick Airport Limited’s proposals for 18,000 new jobs would make the airport larger than Heathrow. The effects would be dramatic, with the need for 30-40,000 houses, more cars and HGVs than the roads could cope with. What degree of overcrowding would result? The need for huge social infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools, would also be immense.
During open forum it became clear that there was extreme concern among those present about the infrastructure problems a new runway would bring. Rail links, for example, were already running over capacity and yet no solutions to this were being proposed.
Discussion turned to how to campaign effectively against the proposal for a second runway. Sir Paul Beresford MP supported the setting up of a team of MPs working from the House of Commons.
There was a frank exchange of views on whether broader arguments about climate change would win the day, or whether campaigning should focus on local environmental issues, such as infrastructure and pollution.
What was clear was that a single strong voice against expansion was needed.
Four experts formed the panel – Keith Taylor MEP, Sarah Clayton (Co-ordinator, AirportWatch), Georgia Wrighton (Director, CPRE Sussex), and Brendon Sewill (Chairman, GACC), each gave brief introductions.
Ms Clayton and Mr Taylor urged opponents of the second runway to make their voices heard, engaging local groups as much as possible on key issues such as road and noise pollution and the threat to people’s way of life. There were many examples of successful anti-airport campaigns, such as Heathrow, Stansted and Munich where runway proposals had been defeated.
The panel agreed on the importance of challenging more effectively the business groups that were arguing that infrastructure would not be a constraint, when it was clear that it would be, and also to challenge their often unfounded arguments on the economic benefits of airport expansion.
The seminar concluded with the Chair tabling a resolution that, “Those here would oppose any new runway at LGW”, which was passed by a show of hands with a large majority.
More recent information from GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign):
New flight paths – GACC says consultation no good without maps.
GACC has reacted strongly to the consultation on new flight paths around Gatwick which was launched jointly by NATS and Gatwick Airport Ltd on 16 October. See press release.
(The map opposite shows flight paths around London on a typical day. Red are Gatwick departures, pink Gatwick arrivals.)
GACC rejects ‘must have a new runway’.
GACC reply to the speech by Sir Howard Davies in which he suggested that a new runway was needed in the South East. Seesubmission to the Airports Commission.
GACC has submitted an important paper to the Airports Commission in response to their invitation to interested bodies to comment on the various runway plans. The paper is a detailed analysis of the Gatwick runway proposals, showing the aeronautical problems and the environmental damage that they would cause.
Read Gatwick Unzipped.