“Gatwick Obviously Not” asks all Wealden councillors if they back East Sussex County Council’s support for Gatwick runway
On 24th November, Kent County Council withdrew its backing for a 2nd Gatwick runway. At present both West Sussex and East Sussex County Councils support a new Gatwick runway. However, it is now understood that East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is starting to look wobbly on this commitment. Kent withdrew support largely due to the unacceptable noise burden on a large number of its residents, and the same arguments apply for the Sussex councils. Gatwick Obviously Not (GON), representing many areas to the east of Gatwick, do not believe East Sussex District Councils support their County Council. GON has written to all 54 of the councillors in Wealdon District, that is now badly affected by over-flying, to ask their view on ESCC’s backing for Gatwick, and their view on the “unilateral stance taken by Cllr Simmons of ESCC to push through support for the 2nd runway under delegated powers” (found out by an FoI request). GON are also asking their membership to email their Wealden councillors, to ask their views on the runway issue, bearing in mind the change of heart at Kent County Council.
Gatwick Obviously Not writes:
We understand that East Sussex County Council are starting to look wobbly on their commitment to support Gatwick’s 2nd runway, given Kent’s rationale for changing their mind (see below).
These same arguments rather rip a hole below the water line for ESCC and we’re not so sure that even their own District Councils support their stance.
For example, Wealden’s peace and quiet (a huge district within ESCC that stretches from a line north of East Grinstead to the coast) will equally be ripped apart by the proposals both for the new flight paths and for the 2nd runway.
We would like to know how the local Councillors feel about the unilateral stance taken by Cllr Simmons of ESCC to push through support for the 2nd runway under delegated powers.
So, we have sent this email below to all 54 of them, and below you can see what they say over the following weeks.
Your voice, too, may help to persuade them to have the courage of their convictions, so we’ve arranged a single email address that you can use to email ALL of the 54 Wealden Councillors in one hit. Do let them know how you feel:
Calling all Wealden District Councillors
Q: Do you support Cllr Simmons’ unilateral decision – taken without a vote under delegated powers – for East Sussex County Council to back a 2nd runway at Gatwick?
You will have heard that Paul Carter of KCC has advised that his County now opposes the 2nd runway at Gatwick.Dear Councillors
I note your Council’s three Corporate Objectives are:
- Enhancing your surroundings
- Maintaining the quality of life
- Ensuring value for money
East Sussex County Council, of which you play such an important part, decided some time ago to support the 2nd runway at Gatwick.
Well, to be clear, a single Cllr decided that the whole County should do so, using his delegated powers to unilaterally make this decision. (A decision only discovered via a Freedom of Information Request).
We’ve tried to persuade Cllr Simmons, for it was he, to change his mind but so far without success.
You probably already know that the infamous ‘Point Merge’ is likely to obliterate what’s left of the tranquility of your District (imagine a system holding enough planes to deliver one to Gatwick every 30 seconds) and that Crowborough or Mayfield may be dissected by the 500m-wide ‘Superhighway in the sky’.
How does this fit with your Corporate Objectives?
Can you help?
Because we hear some of you may not be too happy about this decision, we’re writing to you via this email to ask if you support it or not. We’ll put your answers here so that those voting for you next May can see what you’re thinking.
As you can see, as it stands today, the table [see above] is all question marks, which we’d like to replace with a solid “Yes” or “No” answer from each of you.
Please just email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer, preferably with ‘Wealden‘ in the subject box (we have a huge and very active database throughout West Kent and East Sussex and wouldn’t want to miss your email).
Thanks for letting us know.
P.S. Below are some of Mr Carter’s reasons for his decision. Plane noise doesn’t respect County boundaries. And by the way a Kent Messenger poll says 80% of those voting (1,554 so far) agree with his decision.
Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter said:
“The noise impacts on west Kent from Gatwick’s current single runway configuration are already unacceptable and a potential doubling of these impacts with a second runway would be intolerable.
“The National Air Traffic control service has started to implement changes in flight paths, which has brought to our attention two things – a concentration of flight paths over west Kent; and that the number of night flights at Gatwick during the summer period is three and half times those coming in and out of Heathrow, which is a massive issue.
“This change in flight paths has been intolerable for a significant number of residents in that area and brought us to the conclusion that if they are going to pursue this policy in line with the EU Single European Sky initiatives, expansion of this airport and expansion of night flights must not happen.
Mr Carter added: “It is quite clear that residents in west Kent are already suffering from significant levels of disturbance as a result of increased air traffic over the last few years and the recent changes in flight paths.
“The current number of permitted night flights is simply unacceptable and has resulted in a massive increase in the number of complaints from residents whose quality of life has been disrupted.
“Lastly, there is a lack of adequate surface transport infrastructure enhancements to cope with the proposed additional demand …”
See the Kent Online report on the changed KCC position here:
The position of the East Sussex County Council on a 2nd Gatwick runway.
“East Sussex County Council View
“The County Council supports a second runway at Gatwick Airport and during the recent
runway consultation agreed with the ‘independent mixed mode’ option. The Council
believes this option supports the delivery of the Council’s key priority of long term
economic growth for East Sussex. It maximises economic benefits and the capacity and
operational efficiency of the Airport.
A second runway will be significantly important for businesses in the county by:
• providing better access to international trade and global markets;
• and encouraging inward investment and supporting the vitality of our local economy;
generating much needed jobs both on and off the airport for our residents over the
next 20 – 30 years.
Our support for a second runway is on the basis that there are improvements to airport
access by road and rail.”
….. and it continues at Gatwick Second Runway – East Sussex View (Adobe PDF)
The position of West Sussex County Council on a 2nd Gatwick runway.
At a meeting on 19 July 2013, the County Council debated a Notice of Motion about the future of Gatwick Airport. You can download the minutes from this meeting below.
Notice of Motion by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport
(County Council Report 18 October 2013)
30 The following motion under Standing Order 16(4)** was moved by the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport and seconded by Mrs Duncton.
‘This Council supports a vibrant, growing economy and the Government’s drive for growth for the future economic prosperity of the country.
Gatwick Airport Limited has recently given a clear indication of its intent to publish details of proposals submitted to the independent Airports Commission for future expansion of the airport’s capacity, including the addition of a second runway.
This Council, in principle, supports such proposal as conducive to economic growth and prosperity in West Sussex, and is equally cognizant of the environmental and infrastructure issues that may arise from a future increase in airport capacity.
The County Council therefore asks the Leader and Cabinet to exercise influence and pressure in supporting such expansion at Gatwick Airport whilst having due regard to the potential environmental and infrastructure issues and, where possible, to take a lead in addressing these issues and securing benefits for the communities in the county.’
31. The motion, as set out above, was agreed.
** This means a motion that was submitted without the proper notice period. 16 (4) ” A motion may be considered with less than the required notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent i.e. it could not have been anticipated before the deadline for notices of motion, and that the proposer has given as much notice as was practical.”
Kent County Council opposes Gatwick’s plans for a second runway
24 November 2014 (Kent County Council website)
Kent County Council is intending to oppose plans for a second runway at Gatwick Airport in order to protect residents in West Kent from “intolerable” aircraft noise.
A paper published today (to be considered at a meeting of the cabinet on 1 December) sets out the position of KCC and details how an increase in over-flights and noise experienced by communities in West Kent has risen to unacceptable levels. The county council will call on Gatwick Airport to put in place operational procedures to provide respite for those areas that experience continuous over-flights day and night.
Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, said:
“The noise impacts on West Kent from Gatwick’s current single runway configuration are already unacceptable and a potential doubling of these impacts with a second runway would be intolerable.
“In line with the EU Single European Sky initiatives, the National Air Traffic control service has started to implement changes in flight paths, which has brought to our attention two things – a concentration of flight paths over West Kent; and that the number of night flights at Gatwick during the summer period is three and half times those coming in and out of Heathrow, which is a massive issue.
“This change in flight paths has been intolerable for a significant number of residents in that area and brought us to the conclusion that if they are going to pursue this policy in line with the EU Single European Sky initiatives, expansion of this airport and expansion of night flights must not happen.”
Gatwick’s night time air transport movement limits (between 23:20 and 06:00) remains set until 2017, at 3,250 in winter and 11,200 in summer. This contrasts with far tighter night time movement controls at Heathrow – 2,550 in winter and 3,250 in summer.
Affected residents have reported that overflights have recently risen from 10 – 20 flights-a-day to a maximum of 150.
“It is quite clear that residents in West Kent are already suffering from significant levels of disturbance as a result of increased air traffic over the last few years and the recent changes in flight paths,” Paul Carter said.
“We want Gatwick to provide respite for these residents by varying flight paths – and have met with the airport’s chief executive to discuss this. We want Gatwick and the NATS air traffic control service to re-design the airspace to include the use of multiple arrival and departure routes, to provide predictable, rotating respite, and spread the burden of over-flight more equitably between communities.
“Also, the current number of permitted night flights is simply unacceptable and has resulted in a massive increase in the number of complaints from residents whose quality of life has been disrupted.
“We want the Department for Transport to reduce the night movement limit at Gatwick to at least a level that is comparable with Heathrow.”
Paul Carter said:
“Lastly, there is a lack of adequate surface transport infrastructure enhancements to cope with the proposed additional demand and little obvious direct economic benefit to Kent.
“While we recognise the need for additional airport capacity in order to maintain UK PLC’s position as a major international hub, we cannot support Gatwick Airport Ltd’s proposal for a second runway.”
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.
Notices of Motion (West Sussex County Council)
16. (1) Except as provided by Standing Order 18, every
notice of motion shall be in writing, signed by the member
giving the notice, and shall be delivered to the Director of Law,
Assurance and Strategy, no later than noon on the seventeenth
day before the next meeting of the County Council.18 October 2014
(N.B. This will be before noon on the Tuesday two weeks before
that of the meeting, when this is held on a Friday).
(2) All notices properly given shall be numbered by the
Director of Law, Assurance and Strategy in the order in which
they are received and shall be entered with the date of
reception in a book, kept at the office of the Director of Law,
Assurance and Strategy and open to inspection by any
(3) The Director of Law, Assurance and Strategy shall
insert in the summons for a meeting of the County Council all
notices of motion duly received for that meeting in the order in
which they were received (unless any have been previously
(4) A motion may be considered with less than the
required notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is
urgent i.e. it could not have been anticipated before the
deadline for notices of motion, and that the proposer has given
as much notice as was practical.
(5) Every notice of motion shall be relevant to some
question over which the County Council has power, or which
affects the county as such.