Gatwick distributes 400,000 flyers around west London warning of Heathrow noise (to get backing for Gatwick runway)
Gatwick Airport targets west London with flyers warning of Heathrow noise
by Will Ackerkman
Gatwick will distribute 400,000 flyers to homes across west London, with Uxbridge and South Ruislip being targeted more fiercely than any other constituency
Both airports are vying to be chosen by the next government for expansion, to increase flight capacity in south east England.
Gatwick – located on the border of Surrey and Sussex – would not reveal how much it plans to spend printing and delivering the 400,000 leaflets, in what could be its final PR offensive ahead of the General Election on May 7.
The leaflets began hitting doormats on Monday (April 13), with Uxbridge and South Ruislip due to receive 86,000 in total – more than any other constituency.
The leaflets claim that 683,000 people and 362 schools would be impacted by noise if a third runway were to be built at Heathrow, while only 36,000 people and 15 schools would be affected were Gatwick to expand.
Once again, the move has provoked a slanging match between the two airports, with both sides claiming the other has cherry-picked data.
Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said the information related to the proposed third runway option for expanding Heathrow, rather than the so-called Heathrow Hub option.
He said: “We felt it was quite important that we shone a light on this issue, in the west of London particularly and the area surrounding Heathrow, because we are not sure that this is fully understood by the residents, particularly those who would be newly impacted by noise.”
Gatwick claims the figures in its leaflets come from information given by both airports to the Airports Commission, which has been tasked with choosing which airport should expand.
The numbers, it says, relate to those who would experience an average noise level by 2050 of at least 55 decibels, a threshold recognised by the European Commission. Heathrow points out that it has offered to insulate homes within this contour.
Heathrow has also noted that the Airports Commission has said that were Heathrow to implement its plans for a third runway, which also involve various technological mitigations, fewer people would be affected by noise than are currently.
Conversely, the commission has said that building an extra runway at Gatwick would increase the number of residents impacted by noise, compared to current levels.
But Gatwick says the commission’s phrasing did not make clear that hundreds of thousands living near to Heathrow would no longer be impacted by noise in the future, even without any expansion, because of technological improvements and altered flight paths.
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “Our plans deliver vast economic and social benefits, while reducing Heathrow’s negative impacts, and have been developed by listening to our communities.
“As a result, over 300,000 people could be taken out of the airport’s noise footprint with expansion.
“In addition, we are proposing a £700m schools and homes noise insulation scheme, which goes above and beyond government policy.”
Crispin Blunt, Kwasi Kwarteng and Sam Gyimah send open letter to Gatwick Chairman blasting Gatwick 400,000 Heathrow leaflets stunt
Crispin Blunt, Kwasi Kwarteng and Sam Gyimah (all Surrey MPs in the Coalition government and Conservative candidates) have written to Gatwick Airport Chairman, Sir Roy McNulty, to complain about Gatwick’s leafletting of the Heathrow area. Gatwick has sent out provocative leaflets to some 400,000 households in constituencies around Heathrow, pushing the case for a Gatwick runway. It is doing this at the same time as failing to engage with local communities around its own airport. Gatwick is trying to frighten residents around Heathrow, about the appalling noise and other environmental and economic impacts of a 3rd Heathrow runway. Instead it pushes Gatwick’s negative and unbalanced campaign for its runway. The MPs say Gatwick’s actions demonstrate “an astonishing disregard for the concerns of families and communities around Gatwick, about whom you should have most concern.” They say: “Instead of frightening the communities around your competitor, you should focus on engaging with the communities that surround your airport.” “If Mr Wingate or his team had taken the time to adequately consult with his local communities …[Gatwick would know] … there are wide ranging concerns about the huge strain Gatwick expansion would place on local transport infrastructure, housing, schools and healthcare.”
Gloves are off as Gatwick’s chief exec says Heathrow expansion problems would be “off the scale”
by Laura Proto (Chief reporter – Richmond and Twickenham Times)
Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, said: “If there is one thing Heathrow should have learned is that when you start to fly over newly impacted areas, you should expect a massive reaction and that is what has happened.