Initial comments from GACC on the Airports Commission consultation documents
The Airports Commission has released its consultation. There is a “Business Case and Sustainability Assessment” for Gatwick (137 pages), and there are also some 50 long technical documents. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) will study all these carefully in due course, but at first sight the documents confirm that a new runway would make Gatwick bigger (more passengers) than Heathrow today. That would be an environmental calamity. The consultation paper shows 30,000 people affected by noise from Gatwick, compared to 10,000 today (54 leq). And 560,000 aircraft a year compared to 250,000 at present. This would mean urbanisation of large chunks of Sussex; new flight paths over many towns and villages across the area, loss of tranquillity to AONB areas, gridlock on roads, and a worsening of the north-south divide. The Commission reckons that Gatwick landing charges would need to rise from £9 to £19, or £23 at peak – more than at Heathrow today. Would such a runway be used, especially with others like Stansted, Luton and Birmingham under capacity?
We will study carefully the consultation paper and the mass of important supporting documents. But at first sight –
The paper confirms that a new runway would make Gatwick bigger (more passengers) than Heathrow today. That would be an environmental calamity.
The Commission paper shows 30,000 people affected by noise compared to 10,000 today (54 leq). And 560,000 aircraft a year compared to 250,000 at present
We believe it would mean the urbanisation of large chunks of Sussex; new flight paths over many towns and villages across Surrey, East and West Sussex, and Kent; loss of tranquillity in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; a record number of historic buildings demolished; gridlock on the M25; and a worsening of the north-south divide.
The Commission estimate of 90,000 new jobs (including new firms) would mean mass inward migration either from the north or from the EU. The Commission estimate 18,400 new houses would be required – we think this estimate is too low.
The Commission raises serious concerns about Gatwick’s ability to raise the funding required to deliver its plans. The benefit for the whole country is estimated at half that for a new runway at Heathrow.
The Commission reckons that landing charges at Gatwick would need to double, from £9 per passenger to £19, or £23 at peak. More than at Heathrow today – one of the most expensive airports in the world.
Would passengers and airlines choose to use Stansted instead where landing charges would remain at £9?
It is absurd to think of building a wholly unnecessary new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow when Stansted and Birmingham airports are less than half full.
Airports Commission Consultation
The main consultation document (94 pages):
Airports Commission on Gatwick (138 pages)
Airports Commission on Heathrow Hub – extended northern runway – ENR (144 pages):
Airports Commission on Heathrow Airport’s own runway scheme (144 pages):
The detailed technical documents supporting the runway schemes
Technical documents (over 50)