Tunbridge Wells Borough Council votes almost unanimously against a 2nd Gatwick runway
A public council meeting held by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on 7th January ended with an almost unanimous vote by councillors against a 2nd Gatwick runway. The motion against was carried with 40 votes in favour, one abstention and one against. [Other figures say 35:1]. Council leader David Jukes said: “This is democracy in action – you don’t often see a lot of people attending a boring council meeting.” Managers from Gatwick Airport were invited to attend the meeting but declined (they have also declined to appear before MPs in Parliament). The meeting heard that residents of west Kent and East Sussex are subjected to four times the amount of night flights as residents of West London, and that economic benefits of expansion would not be seen until maybe 2050, with very little effect on the GDP of Kent. A presentation by Joe Ratcliffe, the KCC aviation policy advisor, showed that some areas had seen a drastic increase in flights overhead, rising from around 10 flights per day in 2010 to between 40 and 50 flights in 2014. There was irritation that Gatwick and the CAA persist in saying there has been no change in flights or flight paths, but people are adamant there have been substantial changes. Kent expected to see little benefit from a 2nd Gatwick runway, but to experience a considerably greater noise burden.
Gatwick expansion: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council oppose plans
Civic leaders in Tunbridge Wells have formally declared their opposition to a new runway at Gatwick Airport.
A public debate at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on Wednesday discussed expansion at the airport.
The motion against was carried with 40 votes in favour, one abstention and one against.
Gatwick Airport has previously said its expansion would be funded “without a penny of public money” and create 120,000 jobs.
The Airports Commission will decide whether a new runway will be built at Gatwick or Heathrow later in the year, after the General Election.
Council leader David Jukes said: “This is democracy in action – you don’t often see a lot of people attending a boring council meeting.”
Managers from Gatwick Airport were invited to attend the meeting but declined, he added.
Gatwick Airport expansion comes under fire at meeting in Tunbridge Wells
8.1.2015 (Kent and Sussex Courier)
GATWICK Airport came under fire from campaign groups and representatives of local councils alike at a meeting last night about the prospect of a second runway expansion.
The meeting at Tunbridge Wells Town Hall heard that residents of west Kent and East Sussex are subjected to four times the amount of night flights as residents of West London, and that economic benefits of expansion would not be seen until 2050, with very little effect of the GDP of Kent.
Areas such as Speldhurst had seen a drastic increase in flights overhead, rising from ten flights per day in 2010 to between 40 and 50 flights in 2014, a presentation by Kent County Council aviation policy adviser Joe Ratcliffe showed. Some areas are now subjected to 55 flights overhead per hour.
Matthew Balfour, deputy cabinet member for transport and environment at KCC, said: “I do think it is candidly shameful of Gatwick Airport and the CAA to say for such a long time there has been no change when people have noticed there has been.
“The latest correspondence from the CAA focuses on plans to improve safety and to be more economic. It is to get more aeroplanes into Gatwick. That fallacy has been blown and they will have to live with that.”
He went onto say that with only one per cent of Gatwick Airport’s employees coming from the county, there would be little benefit to employment or the economy but a burden would be placed on the south east of England by the demand to accommodate an influx of new residents which would come with expansion.
A motion opposing the expansion and increased concentration of flight paths was passed by councillors from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council with only one abstention and one vote supporting the expansion.
No representatives from Gatwick Airport were at the meeting but concern was echoed by councillors that the foreign-owned company had expressed plans to sell the airport by 2019 and no accountability would be held if that were to happen.
Anger was focused too on the fact that Gatwick Airport Ltd has not paid corporation tax in the UK for three years, and Councillor Edmund Hastie was greeted with applause when he suggested that the airport should be subject to ‘equitable change’ whereby 20 to 25 per cent of profit from the sale of the airport would go to the British government.
“They only see expansion in terms of pound signs,” he said.
Chairman of the High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group, Richard Streatfeild, said: “The basic equation is more air flight, more disturbance.”
“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.
Kent County Council withdraws backing for Gatwick 2nd runway, due to noise burden
Kent County Council (KCC) is intending to oppose plans for a 2nd Gatwick runway, in order to protect residents in west Kent from “intolerable” aircraft noise. A council policy paper sets out the position of the council and gives details of the over-flying problem, and the level of noise which has risen to unacceptable levels. This will be discussed at a cabinet meeting next week. The recommendation states: “The Cabinet agrees that KCC opposes a 2nd runway at Gatwick Airport, opposes the increase in overflights across West Kent as a result of airspace changes, and supports a reduction in the number of night flights.” KCC Leader, Paul Carter, said a potential doubling of the noise impacts over west Kent would be intolerable. The number of night flights at Gatwick during the summer period is already three and half times as many as at Heathrow. “Expansion of night flights must not happen.“ KCC said it will call on Gatwick to put in place operational procedures to provide respite for areas experiencing continuing over-flights day and night, to spread out the noise burden.
West Sussex County Council gives its backing to 2nd runway plan for Gatwick
The leader of of West Sussex County Council, Mrs Louise Goldman, has welcomed the principle of creating a 2nd Gatwick runway and full airport expansion. This is nearly 35 years after the local authority signed a legal agreement restricting the airport to one runway. She said the county could not be preserved in aspic; and if it was to continue to provide quality jobs for its young people as well as take seriously its responsibilities to an ageing population, it had to make economic growth a priority. Somehow she manages to square that with saying she does did not mean abandoning the environment. “Quite the reverse. I have always considered myself to be an environmentalist, and protecting everything that makes West Sussex a unique place of beauty in which to live, work, and visit, remains enormously important.” And she has the naive hope that “ensuring that we mitigate environmental concerns as much as we possibly can,” will get over environmental problems. Her forthright and unequivocal statement came as Gatwick Airport will submit its planning proposals for expansion on 23rd July.
…. there will be a meeting of West Sussex County Council on 19th January, to consider their position on a new Gatwick runway – as the decision to back the plan, in July 2014 was made in a less than satisfactory manner, with a needless rush and lack of proper discussion or consideration.