Crispin Blunt has co-signed an open letter to Gatwick Airport Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, following revelations that Gatwick Airport is sending provocative leaflets to 400,000 households in constituencies around Heathrow.
Whilst Gatwick is failing to engage with local communities around its own airport, with this leaflet, they are seeking to frighten residents around Heathrow. It ignores the considerable local and national benefits of Heathrow expansion and escalates Gatwick’s negative and unbalanced campaign against Heathrow.
Below is the letter co-signed by Crispin Blunt, Conservative candidate for Reigate, Kwasi Kwarteng, Conservative candidate for Spelthorne, and Sam Gyimah, Conservative candidate for East Surrey:
Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman, Gatwick Airport
Dear Sir Roy,
On behalf of constituents in communities around both Heathrow and Gatwick – residents we hope to continue to represent if re-elected – we are deeply concerned about the scare tactics being deployed by your Chief Executive, on behalf of Gatwick airport, as the debate on airport capacity draws to a conclusion.
The mass mail you have sanctioned, targeting 400,000 leaflets to residents around Heathrow – west London, Surrey and Berkshire – demonstrates an astonishing disregard for the concerns of families and communities around Gatwick, about whom you should have most concern.
It is unacceptable that you continue to ignore your own communities, those who will be most affected by the considerable impact of expansion at Gatwick, and to suggest that ‘Gatwick sounds better’. It doesn’t, and if Mr Wingate or his team had taken the time to adequately consult with his local communities he would know this. You would also know there are wide ranging concerns about the huge strain Gatwick expansion would place on local transport infrastructure, housing, schools and healthcare. Local groups, such as CAGNE and GACC, continue to raise concerns – which have been ignored – about the devastating impact of an expanded Gatwick leaving little local authority or local political support for your plans.
In addition, taking this approach during the election campaign is a blatant attempt to capitalise on outdated views of the political landscape around Heathrow, where expansion is supported by more than 50% of local people polled, precisely because of the employment (40,000 local jobs, 10,000 apprentices) and other benefits that will follow.
Airport expansion, wherever it may be, will require careful and considered planning to ensure that the whole country benefits and that local communities are protected. Your proposals deliver neither.
Instead of spending resources on leafleting households around Heathrow you should be looking after your own neighbours, by concentrating resources on mitigating the impact of P-RNAV and sorting out the altered Gatwick departure flight paths, which are causing an explosion of complaints from residents newly affected by noise.
Instead of frightening the communities around your competitor, you should focus on engaging with the communities that surround your airport.
Conservative candidate for Spelthorne
Conservative candidate for East Surrey
Conservative candidate for Reigate
Gatwick distributes 400,000 flyers around west London warning of Heathrow noise (to get backing for Gatwick runway)
Candidates Oppose Gatwick 2nd Runway
26.4.2015 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)
All eleven Conservative Parliamentary candidates in the seats around Gatwick oppose a second runway. So do all Green Party candidates. So do all UKIP candidates.
Almost all Lib Dem candidates oppose a new runway, the odd ones out being the candidates for Crawley and Horsham. The Labour candidates are about equally divided, half for and half against.
GACC members carried out a survey of parliamentary candidates with many of them signing a pledge to oppose a new runway due to increase in aircraft noise, worsened environment and lack of infrastructure such as roads, rail, schools and hospitals.
At the national level both the Labour and Conservative manifestos say in effect that they will wait for the recommendations of the Airports Commission (expected June/July). If all the Conservative candidates were to be re-elected the bloc of eleven votes in a hung Parliament might perhaps just be sufficient to stop the runway.
The Green Party candidates are in line with their national manifesto which opposes any new runway, mainly on climate change grounds.
The UKIP manifesto opposes any new runway but supports instead greater use of Manston.
At the Lib Dem conference last year a resolution supporting a Gatwick runway was overwhelmingly defeated, and their manifesto reflects this policy but leaves a little wriggle room if the Airports Commission comes up with compelling arguments.
The constituencies included in the survey were Crawley, Horsham, Arundel and South Downs, Mole Valley, Reigate, East Surrey, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Mid Sussex, and Wealden. Not all candidates could be contacted but the summary above gives an accurate reflection of the majority views.