GACC critical of Gatwick’s promises – unless part of legal agreements signed before any runway consent
Gatwick’s latest leaflet to those that live around Gatwick is full of promises but provides no guarantees and misses much of the details, as usual. GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has suggested to the Airports Commission that they need to make sure that all the attractive looking promises made by the airport are real, and not just part of their publicity campaign – to be forgotten when the airport is sold. The promises should not unduly sway a decision about a 2nd runway, unless the airport can be compelled to keep their word. The reality is that there is no method of enforcing the various undertakings being made by Gatwick, other than by legal agreements. However, any new legal agreement would need to be negotiated before approval is given in principle for the runway, otherwise all bargaining power would be lost. GACC submitted this fact to Crawley Borough Council this week, which seemed to be unaware of it. Signing binding legal agreements would prove the airport’s sincerity about its offers, rather than just using them for PR purposes. Gatwick is promising some compensation to a small number of people; it is promising £5,000 per house built for a Gatwick employee; £10 million towards motorway widening; and that landing charges would not rise above £15 till 2030.
Gone are the guarantees – back come Gatwick’s “ice cream” promises
4.5.2015 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
“Gatwick’s BIG Enough”
Gatwick’s latest leaflet to those that live around Gatwick Airport is full of promises but provides no guarantees and misses much of the details, as usual. [The Gatwick “Our pledges to the local community” ].
GACC has suggested to the Airports Commission that they need to make sure that all the sugar-sweet promises made by Gatwick Airport are for real, and not just part of their publicity campaign – to be forgotten when the airport is sold.
GACC chairman Brendon Sewill says: “We are confident that, in the end, no new runway will be built at Gatwick, but we don’t want the Commission, local authorities or residents to be bamboozled by ice-cream promises from the airport which melt in the sun.”
There is no method of enforcing the various undertakings being made by Gatwick Airport Ltd. GACC has good knowledge of this issue having been closely involved in drawing up and overseeing a number of legal agreements with BAA when they owned Gatwick.
Gatwick’s Promises to its neighbours
Direct Compensation – for the majority there would be no compensation.
More Jobs – The Commission state that there would have to be a mass inward migration of workers due to the lack of unemployment in areas surrounding Gatwick, so the job market would change as we know it as families move here in search of work.
Housing Support and More Apprenticeships – There is no legal agreement to enforce the promise of £5,000 per house built for a Gatwick employee. When challenged, Gatwick management suggest this money will be held until they had received proof that a house had been built due to Gatwick expansion. £10m that Gatwick has offered for work to improve roads would only cover 1 mile of motorway widening. The other costs such as construction of ring roads and underpasses would have to be borne by the taxpayer, and the costs could be many millions of pounds.
Apprenticeships are welcomed but Croydon has so been the major beneficiary of these to date.
No Financial Cost to You – This is not true. Residents will not have to pay for the runway if they do not fly. But the cost of the infrastructure to support Gatwick, which may be even larger than that required at Heathrow, has not been evaluated nor has the cost of dealing with the huge influx of workers to West Sussex looking for homes and amenities.
Local Engagement – The poll carried out by Gatwick was created by Gatwick with their own wording. It provided no detailed information to what a new runway would mean to Kent, Sussex and Surrey residents. Results of the polls are often dictated by the questions set.
Better Rail Connections – Gatwick has one railway line that is already congested. You can add trains, carriages but you can’t expand the line unless you remove all the houses from Gatwick to London and the coast. So who will pay in overcrowding, delays and fare rises?
Lower Fares – Gatwick specialises in low cost airlines, unlike Heathrow. Building a new runway at Gatwick could mean the airport is no longer competitive for low-cost airlines, due to overheads. That could force airlines to seek cheaper landing fees at other airports such as Stansted and Luton, which are not full.
Considerable public concern has been expressed in recent months about promises made by foreign multi-national companies in the course of take-over bids that are subsequently negated when the takeover is approved. An example was the take-over of Cadbury by the US based Kraft in 2010.
In a normal planning application, undertakings given by the applicant are incorporated either in legally binding planning conditions, or in a legally binding section 106 agreement.
The answer is a legal agreement. But any new legal agreement would need to be negotiated before approval is given in principle, otherwise all bargaining power would be lost, GACC submitted this fact to Crawley Borough Council this week, who seemed ignorant of this fact.
This procedure would impose a good reality check on GAL’s aspirations. If they were not prepared to sign a legal agreement (in the vernacular, if they were not prepared to put their money where their mouth is), it would prove that their aspirations are not to be taken seriously.
Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) is making a number of promises but does not mention the environmental damage to Kent, Sussex, Surrey. In fact it will destroy the tranquillity for thousands of people, including in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Residents in areas affected will pay for a Gatwick runway, through a reduction in their quality of life.
Gatwick’s runway plan is not supported by EasyJet, BA, or Virgin. It is also not supported by the Institute of Directors, and only 25% of London First support expansion at Gatwick.
GACC says Gatwick’s rash promise to cap landing charge at £15 puts its runway plan in doubt
Gatwick airport have made a very rash promise not to raise their landing charges above £15 (plus inflation) for 30 years, if they get a 30 contract from the government (details not specified). Brendon Sewill, of GACC said: “The whole runway project is in doubt…. Gatwick’s rash promise not to raise airport charges above £15 per head …. seriously puts in question whether building a new runway at Gatwick is a viable business proposal – either for the present owners or for the new owners if Gatwick is sold.” The Airports Commission calculate that Gatwick charges would need to rise to ‘between £15 and £18, with peak charges of up to £23. GACC points out that Gatwick’s promises are meaningless unless they are put into a legal agreement binding on the present airport owners – and future owners. If so, the £15 would become a legal maximum – rather than the current £9. Even at £15, some airlines, and passengers might well decide instead to use much cheaper airports such as Stansted or Luton. GACC has pointed out to the Airports Commission the risk that Gatwick may have fewer passengers than forecast, in which case the cap of £15 may not be sufficient to cover the costs of a new runway and new terminal. Brendon Sewill asks: “What would happen if the money runs out when the new runway is only half built?”
Gatwick hoping its “pledge” of £46.5 million if it gets 2nd runway will go towards a new Crawley hospital
The local Crawley press reports that Gatwick airport has said they will provide money to contribute towards the cost of a new hospital serving Crawley if they are allowed to build a 2nd runway. This is not a new offer – it was in their list of “pledges” put out in July 2014. However, last week Crawley Borough Council announced that it will tell the Airports Commission a new hospital for Crawley and Horsham must be built if Gatwick is expanded. Members of the council’s overview and scrutiny commission debated a report by council officers that the Commission had “significantly underestimated” what healthcare needs would be created by expansion. Gatwick has said it would provide a £46.5 million fund for community infrastructure projects if there is a new runway. (There is doubt whether a future owner of Gatwick would be legally held to any pledges made now by GIP). Gatwick says it would provide just £5,000 per new house needed, and it estimates that number to be 9,300. ie. £46.5 million. But that would have to cover all areas, down to the coast, not only Crawley. Other figures of the cost of building a hospital put the cost at around £330 – £430 million. Local hospital facilities in the area are already under pressure.