GACC debunks alleged benefits of a 2nd Gatwick runway

GACC – the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign – has set out its reaction to the Airports Commission decision to short-list Gatwick.  One of the main negative impacts at Gatwick is seen as the urbanisation of the area, which would be the result of an influx of around 40,000 new families attracted into the area from other parts of the UK and the EU.  GACC does not believe an additional Gatwick would bring large economic benefits to the existing residents of the area.  The Gatwick area has a comparatively low level of unemployment.  A new runway would certainly bring new workers, moving into the area – who would get most of the new jobs, first in construction (building the airport and the required housing) and then at the airport.  The in-comers would derive economic benefits.  The hundreds of new firms (which the Gatwick Diamond business association believes would follow) would also need to import most of their staff.  So almost all the extra income would go to the newcomers. In all  probability existing local residents would just experience more road congestion, more pressure on local infrastructure, more more pressure on health services and schools, as well as more noise, and fewer green fields.



Runway benefits debunked

6.1.2014 (GACC) 


The GACC newsletter of 6.1.2014 GACC Newsletter January 2014 sets out the considered reaction of the environmental campaign group to the decision by the Airports Commission to restrict their study of locations for a new runway only to Heathrow and Gatwick, ruling out Stansted and almost ruling out ‘Boris island’.  One of the main impacts at Gatwick is seen as the urbanisation of the area as a result of an influx of around 40,000 new families attracted into the area from other parts of the UK and the EU.[1]

The GACC executive committee is meeting on Wednesday 8th to plan their campaign for the coming 18 months, that is for the period until the Commission is due to produce its final recommendations in June 2015.

As a first step the newsletter sets about demolishing the claims by Gatwick Airport that a new runway would bring huge economic benefits.   It is shown that virtually all the extra income would go to the new workers moving into the area, not to existing residents.

Since the Gatwick area has a comparatively low level of unemployment, it is suggested that for the first few years, thousands of construction workers, followed by thousands of house-builders, would need to move into the area.  There would be economic benefits for them.  Once the airport was up and running, and operating at full capacity, there would be thousands more airport workers, but they too would need to migrate into the area.  And the hundreds of new firms (which the Gatwick Diamond business association believes would follow) would also need to import most of their staff.  So almost all the extra income would go to the newcomers.

As Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman, says: ‘There is no reason to expect that ordinary families living in Crawley, or Horsham, or East Grinstead, or wherever, would be a penny better off.’

A vote for a new runway is a vote for a worse quality of life for local residents !

The newsletter states that:  ‘It was the lure of economic benefits which persuaded West Sussex County Council in July to pass their rushed, undemocratic, un-thought-through vote in favour of a new runway.[2]  It is true that a new runway would mean more people coming to live in Sussex, more new companies, existing firms expanding, higher total income, and higher council tax receipts.   But for most ordinary people living in the Gatwick area at present there would be no economic benefit, just longer queues at road junctions, longer queues at the doctors and at the hospitals, larger classes for their children, more noise, and fewer green fields.’

It is significant that similar claims for the economic benefits of HS2 are also coming unstuck.  See  (copied below).


[1]   Based on research commissioned by West Sussex County Council and the Gatwick Diamond

[2]   See 

Council Shenanigans

Several County and Borough councils have held debates on the Gatwick runway issue.  For a summary of their decisions (and comments by GACC) see council debates.   A survey of local residents by West Sussex CC has been quoted as supporting a new runway, but in fact this was not so.  See note.




HS2: Government ministers sat on critical report by Department for Transport

The case for HS2 has been further undermined after a report is shown to have exaggerated its benefits

Even after the 60 years, significant CO2 savings depend on the UK closing almost all its coal and gas power stations, which appears increasingly unlikely

Even after the 60 years, significant CO2 savings depend on the UK closing almost all its coal and gas power stations, which appears increasingly unlikely Photo: PA

4 Jan 2014  (Telegraph)

A key report used by the Government to make the economic case for the HS2 high-speed rail line has been critically undermined by the Department for Transport’s own research, which suggests the study’s methods exaggerated the benefits of the project.

The report, by the accountants KPMG, has been repeatedly quoted by ministers — including the Chancellor, George Osborne — to defend their £43 billion scheme.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said he was “pleased to publish” the study, commissioned by HS2, saying it showed the new line would deliver a “£15 billion annual boost to the economy, with the North and Midlands gaining at least double the benefit of the South”.

Mr Osborne said the KPMG report “showed that HS2 will provide a boost to the economy of £15 billion a year”. The figure was said to be the value of higher employment, better productivity and “gross value added” (GVA), increased production of goods and services, caused by the new line.

However, even as the Department for Transport promoted these supposed benefits, it was sitting on a second study which showed them to be grossly exaggerated, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt. This report, by experts including Tom Worsley, the man who developed the DfT’s own transport modelling, criticised KPMG and its method directly and by name, saying it produced “implausibly high” estimates of the effect of high-speed rail projects on the economy.

“There is no evidence that the direction of causation claimed in the model —between an increase in rail connectivity and an increase in productivity, employment density and GVA — has been established,” the second report said. This had a “crucial” impact on the “robustness” of the figures, it added.

The experts said: “There is no explanation provided for the impact of the transport proposal on other geographical areas, i.e. winners and losers … no explanation is given of the original locations of those jobs that shift [as a result of high-speed rail].”

Their report, entitled Assessment of Methods for Modelling and Appraisal of the Sub-National, Regional and Local Economy Impacts of Transport, is dated September 2013 but was published on the DfT website at the end of October, seven weeks after the KPMG research. Unlike the KPMG report, it had no publicity.

The KPMG research has already been substantially discredited, with one former member of the Government’s HS2 advisory panel, Prof Henry Overman, saying it was “technically wrong” and “essentially made up”.

Another statistician, Prof Dan Graham, of Imperial College London, said the KPMG methodology was “not reliable”, while freedom of information requests by the BBC revealed that KPMG had found many parts of the UK stood to lose, not gain, from HS2, but this was never spelt out in its published research.

The disclosure that the Government was warned by its own experts even before publication will bolster concern that the benefits of the costly high-speed scheme have been significantly oversold.

Mr McLoughlin has also claimed that HS2 will be “one of the most potentially beneficial infrastructure projects on the planet” and that it will be “fully integrated into the existing rail network”.

In fact, according to Prof Overman, the economic benefits may be as little as an eighth of those claimed by KPMG, and HS2 will not even run to the main rail station in five of the seven major provincial cities it serves.

Mr McLoughlin claimed in October that HS2 could “reduce carbon emissions” by diverting passenger and freight traffic from road and air to rail. This is also untrue.

The same month, a previously unpublicised 63-page “assessment of carbon emissions” by the consultants Temple-ERM was slipped out on the HS2 website. The report makes clear that the massive CO2 emissions created by building the new line will outweigh any carbon savings from modal shifts in transport for at least six decades.

“Over the construction and the first 60 years of operation of HS2, it is likely that carbon savings … will be less than the carbon emissions, resulting largely from the construction phase,” the report says.

Even after the 60 years, significant CO2 savings depend on the UK closing almost all its coal and gas power stations, which appears increasingly unlikely. High-speed trains consume vast amounts of electricity, which is currently generated largely by burning CO2-producing fossil fuels.

There are around 1.5 million long-distance car journeys in Britain each day. The HS2 environmental statement says just 2,500 of them, less than 0.2 per cent, will transfer to HS2, bringing infinitesimal reductions in traffic congestion, pollution and CO2 emissions. A “small” CO2 saving “may” be delivered after 120 years, it says.

HS2 claims almost 700 air trips a day, four planeloads of people, will transfer to HS2, even though there are no flights between London and Birmingham and few between London and Leeds or Manchester.

It can also be revealed HS2’s former legal advisers have attacked the project, accusing it of using “scare tactics” to win public support.

In a blog post on the Bircham Dyson Bell website, one of the firm’s public affairs staff, Stuart Thomson, said there was a “real problem” with “failings in the statistics” used by HS2 to make its case, including a “fairly transparent scare tactic” of claiming that upgrading existing lines instead would cause 14 years of weekend closures.

Bircham Dyson Bell was legal adviser to HS2 until March 2013. Mr Thomson said: “Opponents have been allowed the space to make the running because of the perceived faults in the justifications and the way that the public consultation was undertaken.”

He said the problems with HS2 “go deeper” than the communications, and the Bill to build the line would have a “difficult journey” through Parliament as a result.

The DfT stood by the KPMG research on Saturday night, saying that its criticism related only to a previous study the firm had done on high-speed rail. However, the method used in both studies was substantially the same and economic benefit produced was similar.

A DfT spokesman said: “The 2013 KPMG study was peer-reviewed and highlights the real economic benefits regions across the country could see thanks to the creation of a new North-South rail line.

“HS2 has drawn support from employers, unions and the construction industry and will deliver essential new capacity to the national rail network freeing up space on the East, West and Midland mainlines, benefiting the thousands of commuters who currently stand travelling into London and Birmingham.”

Cheryl Gillan, Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham, said the case for HS2 was “smoke and mirrors”.

“This is an example of how the project is being bulldozed through as opposed to being discussed in the open on the basis of its merits. But you cannot take the general public for being fools. Particularly given the difficulties of the rail network in the last few days, people do not understand why the money is being spent on a shiny new toy and not on the services they actually use.”