Hundreds turn out for first week of Gatwick 2nd runway consultation meetings
Gatwick Airport’s public consultation about its 2nd runway plans have continued to draw hundreds of people to meetings and sparked a renewed protest campaign. While local residents have packed consultation meetings the Gatwick Airport Conservation Campaign (GACC) has renewed its call for the proposals to be dropped with a new drive called “Gatwick’s Big Enough.” GACC has attacked the consultation itself as a “phoney” – with no proper option to say NO. New action groups have formed against the second runway proposals, in the wake of the formation of CAGNE. Gatwick Airport says at the Crawley exhibition there were 690 people; 350 at Rusper; about 370 in Smallfield; 340 in Ifield, 300 in Lingfield; 275 in Felbridge; and around 180 as far away as Epsom. GACC volunteers have been giving out leaflets and recruiting members outside the runway exhibitions. A high proportion of those attending the exhibitions are stunned by the scale of development, puzzled why there are no flight path maps, and opposed to the massive changes planned to a wide area of Surrey and Sussex.
Hundreds turn out for first week of Gatwick second runway consultation meetings
Monday 14th April 2014 (This is Local London)
Gatwick Airport’s public consultation over its controversial proposals for a second runway has continued to draw hundreds of people to meetings and sparked a renewed protest campaign.
For while local residents have packed consultation meetings with displays in venues including in Rusper, Smallfield and Lingfield, the Gatwick Airport Conservation Campaign (GACC) has renewed its call for the proposals to be dropped with a new drive called “Gatwick’s Big Enough.”
Citing arguments against the proposals from three local MPs, GACC has attacked the consultation itself as a “phoney” and said new action groups have formed up against the second runway proposals, in the wake of Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE).
The group already has more than 300 members drawn from villages including Rusper, Slinfold, Warnham and Broadbridge Heath.
This week, Gatwick Airport released attendance figures for the meetings held so far in its six-week public consultation.
After launching in Crawley with 690 people viewing the display boards at the Hawth Theatre, 350 turned out for the meeting in Rusper, 370 in Smallfield, 340 in Ifield, 300 in Lingfield, and 275 in Felbridge.
Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) has said feedback from the public consultation will help improve its second runway proposal to the Airports Commission. The consultation will run until Friday, May 16. Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer of London Gatwick, said: “We are keen to encourage as many local people as possible to respond to our consultation, as this feedback will have a key role in helping us to refine our runway proposals. “The consultation is a chance for the local community to find out more about our proposals, ask questions and have their say on our plans for a second runway.” But GACC has slated the consultation as a “phoney,” stating that the Airports Commission has already announced in its Interim Report that it would be focusing on the airport’s preferred option of the three suggested schemes put forward – for a new runway 1,045m to the south of the existing runway, but with the two runways being used independently, and with a new terminal being built between them. GACC said the Airports Commission’s announcement meant “the decision has already been taken.”
It has also blasted the airport response form.
GACC vice chairman Peter Barclay said: “Many people are confused by the airport response form which has 278 boxes which you can tick, but only one well-hidden little box labelled ‘None of these options,’ if you wish to say ‘No’ to a new runway.”
GACC volunteers have been giving out leaflets and recruiting members outside the runway exhibitions.
GACC chairman Brendon Sewill said: “The exhibitions are having one good result – we have had a lot of new people signing up as members.”
Mr Sewill of Stan Hill, Charlwood, said: “A number of local action groups, from Tunbridge Wells to Horsham, have been formed opposing a new runway – all working with GACC.
“For instance, in Crawley, the all-Party ‘One’s Enough’ group has been re-started.
“It had great success in 2003 in persuading Crawley Council to switch from a position of support for a new runway to one of unanimous opposition.”
GACC, which has itself already fought expansion at Gatwick two times, has posted thousands of car stickers to members bearing the ‘Gatwick’s Big Enough’ logo.
It has also posted a Fact File, summarising facts about what it says a new runway would do to the area, to all councillors of seven county, borough and district councils.
The fact file states, among other things, that a new runway “would mean twice as many aircraft in the sky, twice the pollution,twice the climate change damage, twice the noise, and new flight paths over peaceful areas.”
It also quotes statements against a second runway from Reigate MP Crispin Blunt, Mid Sussex MP Nicholas Soames and Horsham MP Francis Maude.
GACC’s calls were also echoed this week by Keith Taylor, MEP for South East England.
Joining the group’s slating of the consultation and in particular, the response form and what he said is its “hard to find” tickbox for ‘No New Runway,’ Mr Taylor stated: “But ‘No New Runway’ is the only sane choice.”
In a letter, he wrote: “A massive increase in flights at Gatwick would mean more people affected by noise and pollution, both from planes and the associated road traffic. “It would have big impacts on our already overstretched road and rail infrastructure, and up to 45,000 new houses would need to be squeezed into Surrey and Sussex to accommodate all the workers the larger airport would require.”
He concluded: “Rather than blindly catering for ever-growing demand for air travel, we need to reduce demand.
“Rather than taking part in a phoney consultation, I am voicing my opposition to any expansion of airport capacity in South-east England.”
The next consultation meetings in the Life area – with the displays manned by teams from Gatwick and the Airports Commission – are due to take place at Reigate Community Centre, off High Street, Reigate, next Wednesday (April 23), from 4pm to 7.30pm, in The Studio at Horley Leisure Centre, off Court Lodge Road, Horley, on Saturday, April 26, from 11am to 3.30pm, and at The Parish Hall, The Street, Charlwood, on Monday, April 28, from 4pm to 7.30pm.
People can respond, get more information and find the full details of where the public exhibitions will be held at: www.gatwickairport.com/consultation
Gatwick Airport Ltd held a public exhibition at Ifield Community College last Wednesday detailing its plans, if it is chosen as the Government’s preferred option for increasing airport capacity.
Visitors were provided with information on the three options for where an additional runway would be built.
That included maps showing how an expanded airport would develop into parts of Crawley; how the major road network would change; wider transport schemes; the economic impact; and noise and environmental impacts.
The split in the room, which leaned heavily in opposition to the plans, was highlighted further when the Crawley News spoke to a selection of those present at random.
Of the ten people asked, seven were against the plans compared with three being in favour.
Janine Robins, director at Ifield Barn Theatre who lives in Langley Lane in Ifield, explained why she is against the plans.
She said: “I feel this is the wrong place.
“The theatre is built in a conservation area and if a second runway is built it is going to be right under the path for take-offs and have planes circling over.
“How could we still hold weddings and shows with all that noise going on just above us?
“It will not only be really bad with all the planes but all the extra cars as well.
“People cannot just sit at home and accept a second runway being built here. Our voices against it must be heard.”
Steve Mitchell, from Lavant Close in Gossops Green, was not persuaded to change his mind after visiting the exhibition and speaking to airport representatives.
He said: “I have lived in Crawley for over 20 years and I am completely against a second runway.
“There are already too many planes flying over Gossops Green at the weekends, creating too much noise.
“I have 15 a day at the moment and if a second runway means that doubles to 30 it will be disgusting and unbearable.
“Nothing will change my mind. Even if Gatwick offered me £20,000 in compensation a year I wouldn’t support it.”
One of the people most vocal in their support for Gatwick expansion was the 13-year-old deputy youth mayor for Crawley.
Hajid Hussain, from Langley Green, was representing the Crawley Young Persons Council, made up of 36 members aged between 11 and 25, which is petitioning for a second runway to be built.
Hajid said: “I support option three (a wide-spaced runway which would accommodate arrivals and departures) and Gatwick also getting a new terminal.
“It will bring the most jobs which will help people my age and create an economic boost.
“There are disadvantages such as more pollution but I think there are more benefits.”
Mary Graffham, from Southgate Drive, in Southgate, believes expansion at Gatwick Airport would make travelling to long-haul destinations a lot easier.
Mrs Graffham said: “I like to travel with my husband and we often have to go to Heathrow because Gatwick doesn’t fly to as many long-haul spots.
“The M25 is horrific and it actually puts us off going away sometimes.
“A second runway would lead to more long-haul routes at Gatwick and a much quicker journey.
“I think Gatwick suits expansion.”
Among the details shared were the number of jobs which would be created.
Option one (where a runway would be built closer to the existing runway compared to the other options) would create 7,400, option two 15,200 and option three 17,500.
Major road network changes would include the M23’s Junction 9 being improved with a new slip road added to nearly double its capacity.
Part of a new runway would lie over part of the A23 so it would have to be diverted, separating local and airport traffic.
Balcombe Road would be diverted between Radford Road and the M23 spur road.
The Lowfield Heath Road and Charlwood Road route would be lost through expansion and a short diversion of Ifield Road would be created, close to where it crosses the River Mole.
Once visitors had finished at the public exhibition they were invited to comment in a consultation document.
This included selecting which of the three runway options they preferred, or if they didn’t like any option.
A cross-party anti-second runway campaign group called One’s Enough, originally formed in 2003, has been resurrected and petitioned outside the exhibition.
The group has 15 core members including Labour borough councillor Brenda Smith and Conservative councillors Keith and Sally Blake.
John Byng, from the group, said: “We have seen off three previous attempts to expand Gatwick and we are going to see a fourth fail.”
More than 1,000 people have attended the two airport consultations in Crawley.
A total of 340 residents visited Ifield Community College last Wednesday, while 690 went to The Hawth on April 5.
Anyone living in Crawley who was unable to go to either of those public exhibitions but would like to find out more about the proposals and have their say, can visit any of nine still to be held.
The nearest is at the Haven Centre, in Crawley Down, on April 25 between 4 and 7.30pm.