Government refuses Gatwick inquiry

23.11.2009   (Gatwick Area Conservation  Campaign – GACC – press release)

The Government has refused to hold a public inquiry into plans to expand Gatwick.    

"We are deeply disappointed" said Brendon Sewill, Chairman of GACC, "This is
a massive development, bigger than the total size of many regional airports, and
to permit it with no detailed examination and no safeguards for the environment
is a disgrace."

Gatwick Airport had applied for planning permission to extend the North Terminal
to enable the airport to expand from its previous peak of 35 million passengers
a year to 40 million.     This was passed by Crawley Borough Council with virtually
no conditions.   GACC demanded an inquiry so that the case could be made for conditions to prevent
any increase in noise, pollution, water waste or climate change damage.
  "We are not opposing expansion but it should not be at the expense of local
residents and the environment," said Sewill.

The demand for an inquiry was supported by the WWF (who are concerned that the
increase in greenhouse gasses caused by 20,000 extra flights a year will have
a serious effect on world wildlife), by the Aviation Environment Federation, the
UK Noise Association, by the CPRE,   and by many other environmental groups across
Surrey, Sussex and Kent, many parish councils and many individuals.

Mole Valley Council and Tandridge Council asked for conditions to be imposed
to prevent any increase in noise or pollution.   These requests were ignored by
Crawley Council.

In refusing an inquiry the Government stated that planning decisions should be
left to local democracy.
"Fine in theory" said Sewill, "but local democracy does not work if Crawley
take no notice of their neighbours who are the ones who suffer from noise and

The decision by Crawley was partly based on the fact that BAA had signed a Section
106 legal agreement in which Crawley (and other Councils) accepted expansion to
40 million passengers a year in exchange for a promise to produce a series of
action plans.     "We have now seen the action plan for noise,"   said Sewill, "and
it contains hardly any action to reduce noise.     Lots of action to give the public
information about noise but no promise that noise will be reduced.   The local
councils were sold a mess of PR pottage."

"The danger of this Government decision is that it will give the new owner of
Gatwick, Global Infrastructure Partners, the impression that they can fly roughshod
over the local people and that the local councils are toothless.   Thank goodness
at least that last week Shadow Cabinet Minister Francis Maude confirmed that a
future Conservative Government would never allow a second runway."

GACC vice chairman John Byng added:   "This is the time for Gatwick to concentrate
on improving passenger experience rather than expansion.     The local economy should
diversify into more sustainable industries rather than put more eggs into the
fragile aviation basket."

Four out of five passengers at Gatwick are Brits going abroad.   GACC has estimated
that the expansion of Gatwick will mean a net loss of tourism income which will
cost the UK around 30,000 lost jobs as people spend more money abroad instead
of in this country.

Another reason given for refusing an inquiry is that the planning application
is in line with the Government policy of making maximum use of existing runways.    
"That policy is discredited and out-dated" said Sewill.   "It takes no account
of new climate change targets and takes no account of the new Treasury estimate
that aviation receives a £10 billion annual subsidy by paying no fuel tax and
no VAT."


    1.   Decision letter available on request from .

     2.   Past 12 months:     32.8 million passengers

     3.   For full list of those who objected to the planning application see

     4.   See     (Latest news)

     5.   Rt Hon Francis Maude, MP for Horsham, Shadow Minister with responsibility
for implementation of Conservative policies, speaking at the GACC AGM 13 November

      6.   Air Transport White Paper 2003.