Fears Ifield would be swallowed up if Gatwick builds second runway
With the Airports Commission having made a southern runway at Gatwick one of their options, the people of the villages of Ifield and Langley Green are very concerned about the impact of a very busy full length runway, merely a few hundred metres away. The Ifield Village Association has expressed fears that a runway would destroy Ifield as a pleasant place, and convert it into an area beset by noise and acting just as a service area for an enlarged airport. A 2nd Gatwick runway could lead to there being aircraft flying across the northern tip of Ifield village every few minutes for much of the day. Ifield is already disturbed every few minutes by aircraft climbing out of Gatwick Airport about a mile to the north. If the runway brings huge development and many new jobs, that would mean bringing in workers from other areas – from the UK and from Europe – who would require up to 40,000 new houses. “Crawley already has a housing crisis, new houses would be built on open country in neighbouring authorities. Ifield village could be absorbed into massive new housing estates and lose its access to open country.”
Peter Jordan, an association member, shared his concern, after Gatwick and Heathrow were the only locations named on an Airports Commission shortlist of where a new runway for the South East should be built.
He said: “The wide-spaced southern runway brings the threat of thoseaircraft flying across the northern tip of Ifield village.
“Ifield village is already disturbed every few minutes by aircraft climbing out of Gatwick Airport about a mile to the north.
“The new runway would obliterate Bonnets Lane and cut Charlwood Road on the northern edge of the village.
“It would also skirt the northern edge of Langley Green and Crawley’s industrial estate.
“Gatwick Airport Limited commissioned a study which predicts that airport expansion could bring many new jobs.
“If this is true, these jobs would bring in migrants from other parts of Britain and Europe, who would need up to 40,000 new houses.
“Crawley already has a housing crisis, new houses would be built on open country in neighbouring authorities.
“Ifield village could be absorbed into massive new housing estates and lose its access to open country.
“This is a quiet area of Victorian houses with a sprinkling of much older listed buildings.
“Many people originally came to Crawley to raise families in a peaceful market town.
“A new runway would be the end of that dream, doubling the size of the town and making it into a service area for an enlarged airport.”
Gatwick campaigners claimed the Sussex site is also “unsuitable” saying the area is too small.
Brendon Sewill, chairman of Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said: “Now the battle is for real. The battle lines are drawn. Now the spotlight is on Gatwick the next step will be to examine the runway plans in detail, and it will be found that Gatwick is an unsuitable site.
GACC agreed with the claim by national environmental groups that no new runway could be reconciled with the UK’s obligations under the Climate Change Act.
He said: “We are delighted that our friends at Stansted have had the threat to their homes and environment lifted.
“Over the past 10 years they have fought a good fight and won a worthy victory. Now we at Gatwick must do the same. We have done it before in 1970, 1993, and 2003 and we will do it again.”
Peter Jordan, a member of Ifield Village Conservation Area Advisory Committee, believes residents in the neighbourhoods aren’t taking the potential impact seriously.
Mr Jordan, from The Tighe, Ifield, said: “At present I am a mile from the source of the noise, and it is tolerable.
“This noise would get dramatically worse if there was a new wide-spaced runway, which would run just north of Langley Green and Ifield and close to my house.
“My main concern is that the people of northern Crawley don’t seem to have woken up to the fact that the second runway is likely to be wide-spaced.
“This means that the boundary fence would run very close to Langley Green and would clip the edge of Ifield Village Conservation Area.”
Though work could not legally begin until 2019, Gatwick bosses have made it clear they are eager to build a second runway when they can.
“One of our members said this might bring home to people the fact that the second runway is going to impact a great many places which are, at the moment, comparatively peaceful.”
But Gatwick Airport chiefs quickly quashed the GACC’s suggestions, saying it is far too early to make any assumptions about flightpaths for a new runway.
An airport spokesman said: “Gatwick Airport is still in the early stages of carrying out the options work (for extra airport capacity) for the Airports Commission.
“As part of these studies we will be looking very closely at the local community impacts, including noise and air quality issues, and how these can be minimised.”
But Mr Sewill called on Gatwick to publish its own potential paths.
He said: “If Gatwick Airport Ltd don’t like the maps it is up to them to produce their own.”
And there were some comments from people aghast at the prospect of a second runway:
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Francis Maude, Conservative MP for Horsham, said: “I have always supported the expansion of Gatwick as a single runway airport, just like West Sussex County Council but not a second runway.
“So I’m surprised and disappointed at what seems to be a sudden volte-face by the (West Sussex) county. Of course we’re right to be concerned for economic development and jobs; but local residents will need a lot of persuading that these benefits will not exert an unacceptable environmental price.”
Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex, told the House of Commons last week that the county council’s announcement would put further pressure on housing in Mid Sussex with an ‘almost unsupportable torrent of applications’.
Readers took to the County Times’ website to comment on latest proposals. CJ700 said: “I will never travel by aircraft again following this. Expansion is not always progress. This country is destroying any reason for people to want to visit the UK. So short sighted. I am not so sure I am proud to be British any more.”
Others criticised the county council’s move to support a second runway. Ifield Chris added: “Personally i feel rather aghast that a councillor from far far away is calling for WSCC to support a planned second runway at Gatwick that will not affect him or his constituents one bit.
“I for one am against any expansion, the area around Ifield cannot support this additional noise, roads and disruption for many years. It’s not just a runway, Gatwick will need a new terminal, major roads will have to be re-routed, additional housing for workers, we cant cope with that at the moment.”