West Sussex council considering congestion charge idea for people travelling to Gatwick
The idea of introducing a congestion charge, if a 2nd runway is built at Gatwick, has been mooted by West Sussex County Council. It is one of several possible mitigation measures mentioned in a draft report produced by the WSCC in response to the Airports Commission’s recent consultation on air quality. If a Gatwick 2nd runway is recommended, West Sussex County Council has called for action to achieve high public transport access and congestion-free road access. Gatwick only has one major road link, and one rail link. If more passengers arrive by rail, there will be serious congestion on the trains. If the passengers arrive by car, there will be road congestion, as well as more air pollution – including more NO2. Gatwick airport has made the rather daft statement that “Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and its location means it can guarantee that it never will.” Gatwick, predictably, hopes air quality would stay within legal limits without the introduction of a deeply unpopular congestion charge. WSCC says though the effectiveness of a congestion charge at Gatwick has not been assessed, it might have an impact on car mode share and overall traffic demand. The matter will be discussed by full council on 23rd May.
Congestion charge idea mooted for people travelling to Gatwick Airport
Could a Congestion Charge by introduced for people travelling to Gatwick Airport?
20.5.2015 (West Sussex County Times)
By Joshua Powling
The idea of introducing a congestion charge if a second runway is built at Gatwick has been mooted by the county council.
It is one of several possible mitigation measures mentioned in a draft report produced by the authority in response to the Airports Commission’s consultation on air quality.
In the event that a second runway at Gatwick is picked ahead of expansion at Heathrow, West Sussex County Council has called for action to achieve high public transport access and congestion-free road access.
However a spokesperson for Gatwick said that should a second runway be given the go-ahead it has guaranteed that air quality levels will remain within the legal limits in the area close to the airport, something that could be achieved without the introduction of a congestion charge.
But a congestion charge for motorists travelling to the airport is mentioned by the county council as one of the additional mitigation measures that ‘could be implemented’ but have not been specifically highlighted by Gatwick Airport Limited.
The report reads: “It is not clear how effective a congestion charge could be. An assessment on demand management measures in reducing car use at Heathrow Airport was carried out for another module of the Airports Commission’s assessment.
“Whilst the outcome of that assessment cannot be directly transferred to a different airport, the overall conclusions that the imposition of additional charges on car users could have a significant impact on car mode share and overall traffic demand, remain valid.
“Depending on the scale of charge imposed, and the extent of the scheme (that is whether it targets passengers, employees and/or taxis), it is possible that traffic generation with the expanded Gatwick Airport could be reduced to 2013 levels.”
Councillors are due to discuss the proposed response to the Airports Commission on air quality issues at a Full Council meeting on Friday.
Back in January county councillors voted to oppose a second runway at Gatwick, as well as agreeing a response to the Airports Commission’s main consultation.
This reversed the county council’s previous position from 2013, where the majority of members voted to support expansion at Gatwick ‘in principle’.
One person comments below the article:
“So to make a second runway at Gatwick “affordable” we are to have little or no additional transport infrastructure, but rely upon reducing travel by local residents and business users by the imposition of a congestion charge (or travel tax).
For many residents of West Sussex travel north always involves travel via Gatwick (M23 or A23), so a trip from Horsham to the “local” hospital at East Surrey will require payment of a travel tax.
If the airport are not prepared to pay for ALL of the necessary infrastructure upgrades the a second runway must be out of the question.”
Airports Commission to carry out a new consultation on air quality impact of runway schemes
It is reported that the Airports Commission is now intending to carry out a new public consultation on the the impact of air quality of a new runway. It is thought that the Commission is keen to avert a potential legal challenge to their decision, if the runway would put air quality standards at risk. Only recently the UK Supreme Court ruled that as Britain is still not meeting EU air quality standards, it must quickly produce plans to limit pollution, especially NO2. The FT reports that the consultation would be a very quick, technically focused one, perhaps being completed by the end of May. It is not anticipated to involve any meetings with the general public. Sir Howard Davies is off to become Chairman of RBS, starting that job on 1st September. He joins the RBS board at the end of June. Therefore the runway decision was anticipated during June. If the consultation on air quality is to be thorough enough, and give those consulted adequate time to respond, getting an announcement by the end of June would be very difficult. Parts of the Heathrow area regularly breach air quality limits. Though Gatwick has less of an air quality problem, expanding it to the size Heathrow is now would risk breaching air quality limits – and the Commission should not recommend a development that would mean NO2 limits would be broken.