Residents and their MP in west Kent want Kent County Council to formally state their objection to a 2nd Gatwick runway
In 2012 Kent County Council produced a document called “Bold Steps for Aviation” in which it recommended to government the building of a 2nd runway at Gatwick airport (as well as high speed rail between Heathrow and Gatwick). It stated: “Capacity growth at Gatwick through the addition of a second runway after 2019. ” This has infuriated many people in west Kent who are increasingly badly affected by Gatwick, and its aircraft noise in particular. Now KCC’s councillor Matthew Balfour has said publicly that the support of KCC for a Gatwick 2nd runway is “history.” Sir John Stanley, Tonbridge and Malling MP, has sent a letter to Kent Council leader Paul Carter asking him to formally rescind the authority’s support of the 2nd runway. He has not received a reply. At a public meeting in Southborough, people were directed to the current document on the KCC website (Facing the Aviation Challenge – August 2014) that now states it currently has no preferred option. “KCC gives support in principle to expansion at either airport as the right solution to the UK’s aviation needs” by 2030. Sir John Stanley MP does not feel that this new document is enough.
KCC councillor Matthew Balfour claims statement supporting 2nd runway at Gatwick is ‘history’ at Southborough Town Council meeting
He believes documents relating to the issue available on KCC’s website are misleading and confusing for the public.
During the meeting he made several references to a statement online that currently reads: ‘Kent County Council recommends that a second runway at Gatwick is delivered soon after the 2019 planning agreement ends.’ [Verbatim text from Bold Steps on Aviation is “Capacity growth at Gatwick through the addition of a second runway after 2019. “]
When asked if this still stands, Mr Balfour said: “No, that is history.”
Sir John Stanley, Tonbridge and Malling MP, previously sent a letter to council leader Paul Carter asking him to formally rescind the authority’s support of the second runway but has not received a reply.
Those involved in the meeting were directed to a document on the KCC website that now states it currently has no preferred option. [This is dated August 2014 and entitled “Facing the Aviation Challenge. Discussion Document. Kent County Council.“ ]
Mr Balfour added: “After the consultation next year KCC will discuss with the Airport Commission and come to a decision then. But at this moment in time the council neither welcomes nor rejects a second runway at Gatwick.”
It states that Heathrow and Gatwick airports have put forward credible solutions to the problem of airport capactiy constraints.
“An additional runway at either airport are the options shortlisited by the Airports Commission in its interim report in December 2013,” the document adds.
“KCC gives support in principle to expansion at either airport as the right solution to the UK’s aviation needs.”
Sir John does not feel that this new document is enough and is urging Mr Carter to formally state that KCC objects to the proposals.
“It is all very well saying that it is history and putting another document in the air claiming they currently don’t have a stand on the proposal, but it doesn’t mean anything until they formally rescind that statement of support made to the Airport Commission.
“Mr Carter must write a formal statement rescinding the awfully damaging recommendation and cover it with a new one for expanding Heathrow. Until then, comments such as ‘that is history’ are meaningless” – Sir John Stanley…
“This new revised comment is buried in an extremely detailed document that 99% of people will not be able to find let alone have the time to trawl through. As well as that, their original statement can still be found on the website – so how are the public meant to know what’s right?
“I am urging KCC to formally abandon its support for the second runway at Gatwick and cover that with a new recommendation for another runway at Heathrow where there is the capacity to build one.
“It has a responsibility to the people of west Kent and needs to take action to protect them.
“Mr Carter must write a formal statement rescinding the awfully damaging recommendation. Until then, comments such as ‘that is history’ are meaningless.”
Southborough Town Council will discuss its stand on the proposals at a meeting tonight.
“No, that is history”
Mathew Balfour, Deputy Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Kent County Council, in reference to Kent’s stated support for the 2nd runway, at a recent Council meeting.
However Sir John Stanley, who has been heavily critical of KCC’s previous stance on this, said this does not go far enough and Paul Carter, Leader, KCC, must “formally abandon its support for the second runway at Gatwick” and that “it doesn’t mean anything until they formally rescind that statement of support made to the Airport Commission”.
Please write to Cllr Carter and ask him to confirm Cllr Balfour’s statement that it is indeed history, once – and for all.
Edenbridge councillors blast Gatwick second runway proposal
By Edenbridge Courier
May 25, 2012
EDENBRIDGE councillors have accused the Kent County Council leader of ignoring town residents’ concerns by calling for a second runway at Gatwick Airport.
Town councillors this week sent a stinging rebuke to Paul Carter, criticising his authority’s plan as “ill-considered”.
Edenbridge, Hever and Marsh Green are already subjected to the daily misery of low-flying jets approaching Gatwick, and councillors believe the proposals in KCC’s discussion document, released earlier this month, would worsen the situation in the coming years.
Councillor Jill Davison told the Courier: “Coming out with a very definite proposal for an extra runway at Gatwick was guaranteed to produce a poor reaction from Edenbridge residents, particularly at the southern end, which is under the flightpath.”
The KCC document, Bold Steps For Aviation, calls for a second Gatwick runway to be built after 2019 and for more passengers to be ferried from Heathrow on a new high-speed rail link. It also proposes greater use of regional airports such as Manston and Lydd in preference to the creation of an artificial island in the Thames Estuary.
Edenbridge Town Council’s response was agreed at a meeting on Monday evening, when Councillor John Scholey light-heartedly suggested KCC was only interested in keeping aircraft noise away from its own headquarters.
“Fundamentally, they are getting the problem away from Maidstone and Medway,” he said.
The councillors’ letter to Mr Carter expressed how “surprised and troubled” members were by the document, which they claimed “flies in the face of recent Government planning initiatives”.
One particularly hard-hitting section read: “KCC appears to be solely driven by commercial imperatives to the exclusion of any other factors.
“Your paper completely divorces itself from the disruptive impact that the wholesale expansion of numerous airports, including additional runways and new high-speed rail links, will have across the face of Kent.
“We believe this approach is unsupportable.”
Marsh Green resident Peter Breen, who is a member of the campaign group Gatwick Can Be Quieter, said the response was “on the money”, and added: “The KCC document is a complete nonsense.”
Despite clearly stating it “commends” its proposals to the Government, Mr Carter told the Courier that the paper should only be viewed as a discussion document at this stage.
“Their reaction is understandable,” he said. “Airports are never popular, wherever you locate them in this country.
“Everyone is perfectly entitled to have their input on what they think about it.
“They can do what they want in voicing their opinions on what is a potential solution to making sure we retain our international aviation capacity and retain London’s position as the centre of the globe.”
KCC document, Bold Steps For Aviation, 2012
The document recommended to government, among other things:
“Capacity growth at Gatwick through the addition of a second runway after 2019. “
And it states, on Page 15:
“The potential for Gatwick and Heathrow to complement each other as connected airports
can only be realised if a second runway is provided at Gatwick when the present
moratorium on planning expires in 2019. Capacity growth at Gatwick represents a more
acceptable long-term solution than expansion at Heathrow, due to the significantly lower
number of people that would be overflown by arriving and departing aircraft, the relatively
good rail and road access enjoyed by Gatwick, and the huge economic benefits that this
solution would bring to deprived communities in Kent, Sussex and South London.”
KCC document Facing the Aviation Challenge, dated August 2014. [This was written before the Airports Commission ruled out an estuary airport, from its further deliberations].
Facing the Aviation Challenge states:
Continuous over flight of arriving aircraft into Gatwick causes significant detrimental impact
for residents of West Kent and impacts on the tranquillity of the countryside, including
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); where the CAA discourages over flight, if17
practical, below 7,000ft20. KCC urges that aircraft avoid flying over the major tourist
attractions that are of significant national heritage value in West Kent.
Night flights at Gatwick are also very frequent due to a lower quota set by the DfT compared
to Heathrow, and sleep disturbance has detrimental effects on the health of people living
under flight paths. KCC has made the case to Government for a reduction in night flights at
Gatwick so that the number of permitted night movements is more comparable with the
quota set by the DfT for Heathrow. KCC is against night flights that disturb residents;
however, KCC recognises the economic arguments for allowing limited night flights in the
shoulder periods, particularly long haul flights from emerging economies, which bring
economic benefits to the UK. KCC’s views on noise have been submitted to the Airports
Commission in response to the discussion paper on aviation noise (September 2013)21.
In Facing the Aviation Challenge Kent County Council sets out its recognition of the growth
in aviation and its position on how the UK can meet this need through expansion of existing
airports – Heathrow or Gatwick (as shortlisted by the Airports Commission in its interim
report in December 2013) and better utilisation of regional airports including London
Ashford Airport (Lydd) and London Southend Airport, combined with improved surface
access by rail. This is a far more affordable and deliverable solution than building a new hub
airport in the Thames Estuary; and this document sets out the reasons for Kent County
Council’s robust opposition to the proposals for an airport on the Isle of Grain, which the
Airports Commission is investigating further in 2014.
Expanding existing airports will allow the UK to compete with other European hub airports,
although the UK’s current competitive disadvantage with high rates of Air Passenger Duty
(APD) also needs to be addressed.
However, aviation growth needs to be balanced against the adverse impacts, such as noise.
Therefore measures need to be put in place to minimise noise impacts and protect people
living near airports.
Kent County Council recommends to Government:
• The need for correction of the UK’s competitive disadvantage in terms of APD.
• The creation of a National Policy Statement (NPS) for airports that supports the growth
of existing airports with one net additional runway added in the South East by 2030.
• The NPS should not, however, support the development of new airports.
• The NPS should support a phased approach to adding runway capacity to keep pace with
demand, therefore allowing existing airports to add additional runway capacity when
the need arises, most likely a second net additional runway in the South East by 2050.
• The need for better utilisation of regional airports, especially in the short and medium
terms, as this will provide much needed capacity across the South East and bring
significant economic benefits to regional economies.
• Investment is needed to improve surface access to airports; especially rail access and the
development of an integrated air-rail transport system that will be beneficial to London
and the South East’s connectivity to global markets.
• An independent noise authority should be set up (as recommended by the Airports
Commission) and measures taken to properly measure, minimise and mitigate the noise
impacts of existing airport operations and airport expansion.
• Proposals for a new hub airport must not be progressed any further. Action is needed
now and this can only be achieved by building on the UK’s existing airport infrastructure.
In the interests of the national economy, action on these issues is needed now.