Gatwick “Dear neighbour” letter to all households – inviting support for runway – play “spot the omissions” with it!
Gatwick airport, as part of its PR push for its 2nd runway, has written to thousands of local households in its surrounding area, with virtually everyone for miles around getting the letter. Gatwick is hoping people will respond to the Airports Commission consultation (deadline 3rd February) to back their runway. The letter can be found here. Several residents have already expressed their anger at receiving it, and at the failure of Gatwick to take any real account of the extent of the local opposition. Gatwick does not find it convenient to take much note of the fury about aircraft noise from new flight paths, or of very real and serious concerns about the horrific impact of a new runway on a huge area of Sussex, as well as of Surrey and Kent. You may like to go through the letter, entertaining yourself with trying to spot the deliberate omissions, the deliberate partial truths, and the deliberate glossings-over. It is too full of them to list in this summary. But to save time, you might prefer to see the annotated version below, setting out some of the failings and distortions of the letter.
The Gatwick airport letter is online here – and copied below
Gatwick Airport has sent out a letter to, it seems, every councillor in the Gatwick area. Their letter to councillors says:
Dear Cllr xxxxxxx
Last month, the Airports Commission launched a public consultation into airport expansion. As one of the shortlisted options we feel it is important for people in the local area to have access to all of the facts, and understand the case for a second runway at Gatwick, alongside the alternatives.
To this end, next week residents in your area will receive a letter from Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s Chief Executive to make residents aware of this process and give them some information on how they can have their voices heard. A copy of the letter can be viewed here: letter to residents (copied below).
For the South-East and London, Gatwick will drive significant economic benefits in terms of jobs, housing, and transport. Crucially, we are working with councils all over the region, including Mole Valley District Council, to deliver these benefits where they are needed and wanted most.
If you have any questions or comments on the letter, the Commission or Gatwick, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Planning and Stakeholder Engagement Manager
Airports Commission Project Team
Gatwick Airport has sent this letter out to all residents in the areas surrounding the airport.
[AirportWatch comments in red].
You may have noticed that Gatwick has featured in the news a lot lately. That’s because the government has set up an independent Airports Commission to look at the future of aviation capacity in the UK. The Airports Commission’s interim report published in December 2013 concluded there is a need for a new runway to be operational in the South East by
2030. They will be recommending to Government in summer 2015 whether this new runway should be at Heathrow or at Gatwick. So we are making our case for Gatwick to have a new runway. [So far, so good].
We are proud of the economic activity and jobs that Gatwick brings to the local area. The chances are you will know someone who works at the airport. Gatwick is the largest employer locally and many businesses choose to locate nearby because of the opportunities and global connections the airport brings. We strongly believe that building a second runway at Gatwick will be better than building a third runway at Heathrow. [Now, that’s a surprise ….]
Expanding Gatwick will [will??] create two world class airports serving London and the South East. We can build a runway at Gatwick quicker and at half the price of building at Heathrow. [Perhaps]. At a time of tight public spending, our option won’t cost the taxpayer anything, whereas expansion at Heathrow will involve tunnelling the M25, at great cost to the public purse. [That is absolutely not correct. The Airports Commission says it has not taken a view on what proportion of improvements to road and rail systems, that benefit the airport, it should have to pay for. Page 27 of Commission consultation. A report by Jacobs for the Commission puts anticipated costs of road schemes at £734 million. Page 65 of Jacobs report ].
We want to make sure that expanding Gatwick also benefits local people, with new jobs and new opportunities. That’s why we will be funding 2,500 apprenticeships – offering a foot in the door to local young people – just as I had when I began my career as an apprentice. [A high proportion of jobs at airports are both low-skilled and insecure (baggage handlers, cleaners, caterers) and both airports and airlines reduce the number of employees whenever they can, to save money. Thus gaining more productivity per employee. For example BA staff cuts].
But we also understand that having an airport close-by affects some [some !!] local people, [very perceptive of them] through aircraft noise and road traffic. [ Missing out rail congestion]. We are committed to being a good neighbour. [As long as being a “good neighbour” is not well defined, and as long as that does not get in the way of massive expansion, and negatively affecting thousands of people and the local environment] .
That’s why, as we develop our plans to expand Gatwick, we are also working with our local authorities and local people to ensure that the impacts of expanding Gatwick are minimised and properly managed. [Nice words, but with little actual meaning. Local people may not believe that has been very effective so far. Dreadful consultations. Failure of senior staff to appear at local meetings. Inability of noise complaints lines to respond. Inadequate responses to complaints. And so on …]
That means limiting as far as possible the number of people [note, the NUMBER – nothing about the DEGREE of noise they are subjected to] badly affected by noise, insulating thousands of homes under the flight path, [noise insulation does not help when the windows are open, of for people outdoors] compensating those who are directly affected by development, [only those in the very worse affected areas and not for the thousands and thousands indirectly affected, by more house building and pressure on infrastructure ] and paying £1,000 per year towards council tax bills for those who are most affected. [How are those worse affected defined? The discredited 57Leq measure is not enough, though convenient for Gatwick].
And finally, we have set up a £46 million fund to contribute towards local infrastructure improvements. [That is merely a drop in the ocean … and how about new health facilities, new schools, new leisure facilities, road maintenance and so on, and so forth ….. Offering to fund work on one roundabout is just peanuts ….]
This is in addition to our commitment to double our annual contribution to public transport, paying for improvements to connect with the M23 and setting aside a further £10 million fund for local road improvements. [Bearing mind it costs around £30 – 40 million for one kilometer of motorway….. that is not going to go far … See link ]
When we say we want to be good neighbours, we mean it. [Good]. Gatwick brings huge benefits to this area, and we have the opportunity to create even more. But where we have a negative impact, we will do all we can to reduce this and compensate people who are affected. [Everything apart from not having such a negative impact – the proverbial giving “every possible assistanace short of actual help” scenario].
We held a consultation earlier this year to explain our plans and get people’s views, [85% of respondents were against a new runway – but Gatwick has taken no notice of that see link ] and we have used the feedback from this to modify and improve our proposals.
The Airports Commission is consulting between now and February on the subject and you can find out more at www.gov.uk/airports-commission. And if you want more information about Gatwick, our plans for a second runway or to pledge your support, please visit gatwickobviously.com.
CEO, Gatwick Airport.
How about some other issues utterly omitted?
a. Climate change, and the immense carbon emissions created by all those extra flights?
b. How about all the extra workers who may be expected to have to be found, for an airport nearly as large as Heathrow, forming at Gatwick? Where will they be found?
c. As the Gatwick area has very low unemployment, workers will have to come from elsewhere.
d. How will road congestion due to extra airport traffic be dealt with?
e. How will rail congestion, due to the extra airport passengers, be dealt with?
f. Where will all the new homes needed for all the extra workers go? There is huge difficulty already in finding enough homes – and that’s without a 2nd runway.
g. How about the pressure on social infrastructure (health, education, recreation)?
h. How about loss of green areas, ancient woodland, countryside, natural places, tranquillity?
i. And how about loss of listed buildings, loss of local character, and increased urbanisation?
j. And – just a mention – how much profit will be returned to foreign shareholders, while Gatwick continue to carry out complicated (legal) financial moves to avoid paying UK corporation tax.
….. and there are many more. ….. without even mentioning air pollution ……
So Stewart’s letter does NOT say much more than it actually says.
Sadly Stewart does not leave a reply email address. But if you feel the need to point out anything in the letter that you are not happy about, you could try firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be prepared to send a letter to the Commission, before the 3rd February deadline. But please not yet !
There are 55+ documents in the total consultation, and it will take time for GACC, CAGNE etc to read through them all very thoroughly. They will then be publicising guidance on the key points to respond to, and the key things that need to be said.
No ordinary person, with a busy life, can be expected to read through the 55+ large documents, which come to perhaps 2,500 to 3,000 pages !
So wait till the airport community groups can do some of the reading on your behalf !