West Kent parish councils complain that the Airports Commission air quality consultation period is too short
Gatwick and Heathrow air quality consultation ‘too short’
Four parish councils in West Kent are against the expansion of Gatwick AirportCampaigners fighting a second runway at Gatwick say they have not been given enough time to respond to a public consultation on air quality.The Airports Commission gave people three weeks to submit further evidence about air pollution on 8 May.Four West Kent parish councils have called for more time to put together a “correct and democratic answer”.
Next month, commission chairman Sir Howard Davies is expected to recommend a new runway for Gatwick or Heathrow.
Richard Streatfield, chairman of the High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group, which covers Chiddingstone, Hever, Leigh and Penshurst authorities, said they would be asking Sir Howard to extend the consultation by nine weeks.
He said a number of new High Weald councillors had just been elected.
“They’ve got to do something potentially they’ve never looked at before and gather lots and lots of information and then agree something,” he explained,” he said.
“We think this consultation should be the same as any other and it should be 12 weeks long.”
Sir Howard’s decision to consult further came after a Supreme Court ruling in April, ordering the UK to do more to improve air quality.
Alastair McDermid, Gatwick’s airports commission director, said although it was “very late in the process” they were pleased the commission had launched the consultation.
“This was a topic that we’d already done some work on so we may have been slightly ahead of the field by choosing to do that work at an earlier stage,” he said.
The Airports Commission is considering three options for airport expansion in the South East – a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow, or an extension to one of the existing Heathrow runways.
It declined to comment on the length of the consultation.
The new document was added on 18th May. It is
A consultation should present all the relevant documents at the start of the process. Otherwise people who manage to submit their response early may have missed out on vital information, that might mean their response is not complete. Unless people are on the Airports Commission’s mailing list, or hear of the new documents through colleagues, many people could remain unaware that they have been added. The Commission added many documents later in the consultation process, for its main consultation that was November 2014 to February 2015.
Airports Commission to carry out a new consultation on air quality impact of runway schemes
It is reported that the Airports Commission is now intending to carry out a new public consultation on the the impact of air quality of a new runway. It is thought that the Commission is keen to avert a potential legal challenge to their decision, if the runway would put air quality standards at risk. Only recently the UK Supreme Court ruled that as Britain is still not meeting EU air quality standards, it must quickly produce plans to limit pollution, especially NO2. The FT reports that the consultation would be a very quick, technically focused one, perhaps being completed by the end of May. It is not anticipated to involve any meetings with the general public. Sir Howard Davies is off to become Chairman of RBS, starting that job on 1st September. He joins the RBS board at the end of June. Therefore the runway decision was anticipated during June. If the consultation on air quality is to be thorough enough, and give those consulted adequate time to respond, getting an announcement by the end of June would be very difficult. Parts of the Heathrow area regularly breach air quality limits. Though Gatwick has less of an air quality problem, expanding it to the size Heathrow is now would risk breaching air quality limits – and the Commission should not recommend a development that would mean NO2 limits would be broken.