West Sussex County Council votes to oppose a 2nd Gatwick runway (Kent CC has already done so too)
A second County Council has withdrawn its support for a 2nd Gatwick runway, because of the high level of local opposition – and the unconvincing case made by the airport. West Sussex County Council (WSCC) voted by 37 to 26 to reverse its (somewhat unorthodox) decision in July 2013 to support another Gatwick runway. It held today’s special meeting to debate the Gatwick issue, because the Council needed to write its response to the Airports Commission consultation, before it ends on 3rd February. Kent County Council withdrew its backing for a second runway in November, because of new flight paths. Over almost 5 hours of debate, numerous WSCC councillors put their points, displaying a sincere intention to act in the best interests of the county’s residents, as they saw them. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the Airports Commission’s documents and analysis, saying it was incomplete and often inaccurate. There was a high level of uncertainty about the inability of the county’s infrastructure to cope with the stresses of a new runway, with transport being of particular concern. Ultimately councillors felt there were likely to be huge costs and problems from a runway, with uncertain benefits. They voted against the runway. Gatwick said it was disappointed by WSCC’s decision.
Gatwick expansion: Second council makes runway U-turn
Campaigners against the second runway protested outside the West Sussex County Council meeting
A second county council has withdrawn its support for another runway at Gatwick airport because of the high level of local opposition.
West Sussex County Council (WSCC) voted by 37 to 26 to reverse its decision in July 2013 to support expansion of the airport.
Kent County Council withdrew its backing for a second runway in November, because of new flight paths.
Gatwick said it was disappointed by WSCC’s decision.
The Airports Commission is considering three options for airport expansion in the South East – a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow or an extension to one of the existing Heathrow runways.
WSCC held a special meeting to consider its response to a public consultation that ends next month.
“The issue of a second runway at Gatwick is an extremely emotive subject,” said Councillor Pieter Montyn.
“Councillors believed that Gatwick has not, to date, put forward sufficient evidence to counter the very serious environmental and noise fears of local residents.
“However, irrespective of our position, our role now is to start planning for the future.
“The decision about the runway will be made by government so we have a responsibility and duty to plan for either scenario – second runway at Gatwick or not.”
The council’s official response is contained in 20 pages of improvements it believes should be made before any proposal to expand Gatwick is submitted to the government.
CGI of second Gatwick runway
The proposed second runway at Gatwick is being considered by the Airports Commission
The Airports Commission is expected to make its final recommendation later this year.
Gatwick said it believed expansion would bring a huge boost for the local economy, including thousands of jobs.
“We will continue to work closely with West Sussex County Council to illustrate the benefits that expansion will deliver,” it said.
“Gatwick is doing as much as possible to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on local residents.”
The Amendment that was voted on, by Mr Griffiths, was:
“The environmental damage is without question, whereas the economic benefit is unproven and may well be negative. Therefore this Council expresses its opposiiton to a new runway to expand Gatwick Airport”
This was an amendment to a longer original motion by Cllr Bill Acraman.
West Sussex County Council Cabinet will not include mention of vote against Gatwick runway in its Airports Commission consultation response
West Sussex County Council voted against supporting a 2nd Gatwick runway – with 37 votes to 26 votes, with 4 abstentions. It also agreed its official response to the Airports Commission’s consultation expressing ‘serious concerns’ about the implications of a Gatwick 2nd runway. At a special Full Council meeting councillors almost unanimously approved the 20-page document which lists the improvements it believes need to be made before any proposal to expand the airport is submitted to Government. Leader of West Sussex County Council, Mrs Louise Goldsmith, and the Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Pieter Montyn, continue to back the runway. Mr Montyn said the council would not be including information on the vote in their submission to the Commission. Mrs Goldsmith was eager to assert that the Commission’s decision on a runway would not be influenced by her council – an opinion which many would disagree with. Mr Montyn said: “The issue of a 2nd runway at Gatwick is an extremely emotive subject and that played out at today’s meeting. [The Commission …] asks us to comment on the methodology and evidence base of [their] assessments, and to put forward improvements that we believe should be made.” Hence its position opposing Gatwick expansion will not form part of its consultation response.