Speaking as Chair of the Gatwick Coordination Group of MPs (listed below), Crispin Blunt MP has lambasted the Government’s indecision over its response to the Airports Commission recommendation for a new runway at Heathrow Airport.
Crispin Blunt said:
“This is a disgraceful vacillation by the Government. They will richly deserve the opprobrium to be poured all over this shocking non-decision.
“Sir Howard Davies’s Airports Commission undertook rigorous analysis and extensive consultations before it made a clear, unequivocal and unanimous decision for Heathrow. Sir Howard said in his final report in July:
‘The Commission urges the Government to make an early decision on its recommendations. Further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen, nationally and internationally, as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the twenty first century.’
“We were promised a decision by the end of the year. Recently we were promised a direction. What we have is neither decision, nor direction, but political cowardice, weakness and prevarication. People will see through this pathetic effort to avoid criticism in the run-up to the London mayoral election. Zac Goldsmith should not be allowed to exercise a veto over the national interest.
“We will fight tooth and nail any attempts to resurrect Gatwick, whose flawed and costly proposal was left dead and buried by the Airports Commission. It is not the easier option. It would not survive the scrutiny of Parliament and the courts. Gatwick would deliver half the economic benefit, has wretched rail and road transport connections, and would fail to provide the hub airport which the UK needs.”
Gatwick Coordination Group MP Members:
Crispin Blunt MP (Reigate) (Chairman)
Sir Paul Beresford MP (Mole Valley)
Nusrat Ghani MP (Wealden)
The Rt Hon Nick Herbert MP (Arundel and South Downs)
Henry Smith MP (Crawley)
The Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Soames MP (Mid Sussex)
Tom Tugendhat MP (Tonbridge and Malling)
Jeremy Quin MP (Horsham)
Comment by GACC on government runway statement: Gatwick is not an easy option, especially on surface access
GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) has responded to the news that the government is postponing its runway decision for at least 6 months – and therefore leaving Gatwick as a possible location. GACC is not surprised that the Government has delayed the decision, because Gatwick is not an easy option – there are substantial environmental problems at Gatwick as well as at Heathrow – for which no solution has been found. At Gatwick these include aggravating the north-south divide; 50,000 people would be affected by worse air quality; there would be a need for a new town the size of Crawley; three times as many people as at present would be affected by severe levels of aircraft noise; and the road and rail system could not cope, when the airport approached full capacity. A key issue that has no far been neglected by government, or the Commission, is the real cost of the road and rail infrastructure work that would be required for a 2nd Gatwick runway. The M23 and M25 would need major widening, the M23 would need to be extended into London, several new A roads would need to be built east and west of Gatwick, and the Brighton main rail line would need extensive work – all of which could be just as costly as anything needed at Heathrow. The reality is that the annual number of Gatwick flights is now only 5% higher than it was in 2000.
Long awaited Government statement on runways – decision will be delayed till summer 2016 – more work needed
After a meeting of the Cabinet Airports Sub-Committee, a statement was finally put out by Patrick Mcloughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, at 7pm. It said that the government confirms it supports the building of a new runway in the south east, to add capacity by 2030 (earlier airports claimed they could have a runway built by 2025). The decision on location is “subject to further consideration on environmental impacts and the best possible mitigation measures.” All three short listed schemes will continue to be considered – so Gatwick is still included. “The government will undertake a package of further work and we anticipate that it will conclude over the summer.” On air pollution and carbon emissions “The government faces a complex and challenging decision on delivering this capacity.” More work is needed on NO2. “The government expects the airports to put forward ambitious solutions. …The mechanism for delivering planning consents for airport expansion will be an ‘Airports national policy statement’ (NPS), following which a scheme promoter would need to apply for a development consent order.”… “At the first opportunity I will make a statement to the House to make clear our plans.”