The Gatwick’s Big Enough Campaign writes to local authorities to ask that all Gatwick expansion plans should be properly scrutinised

The newly formed coalition of community groups, opposing the expansion of Gatwick airport and the noise made by its flights, has written to all the Leaders and CEOs of all Gatwick’s Host and Neighbouring local authorities. The letter proposes actions that Councils could take to ensure that all Gatwick’s proposed growth is properly scrutinised, as is the case at every other major UK airport. In particular it urges Councils to ask the Secretary of State for Transport to direct that Gatwick’s main runway development should be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) requiring development consent (a DCO) using his powers under section 35 of the Planning Act 2008. This would ensure that there was proper scrutiny of all proposed growth, of more flights on the existing runway – as well as more flights by using the current emergency runway as a full runway.  As things stand at present, the approximately 60% increase in flights that Gatwick plans would not require any particular planning scrutiny, while the use of the emergency runway (about 40% of the growth) would.  This is an anomaly. The groups are also keen to discuss the issues with the affected councils.



The letter:

28 November 2019



Dear Council Leader

I am writing to you as Leader of one of the Host or Neighbouring Authorities for the purposes of Gatwick Airport’s emergency runway Development Consent Order (DCO) application.

Gatwick’s master plan proposes that the airport should grow from 46m to 70m passengers annually and from 280,000 movements to 390,000.

Some 40% of this growth would be achieved by making routine use of the airport’s emergency runway. The climate change, congestion, noise and other consequences of that growth, and its benefits, will be addressed through the DCO process and we look forward to engaging in that. If approved, routine use of the emergency runway would not commence until the mid 2020s.

But 60% of Gatwick’s proposed growth, commencing immediately, would be achieved by making more use of the airport’s existing main runway. That growth is not within the scope of the emergency runway DCO process and is not currently subject to any other scrutiny, planning permission or consultation.

That cannot be right. Both the Planning Act 2008 and the government’s “Making Best Use of Existing Runways” policy are very clear that airport growth of more than 10m passengers constitutes a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) requiring Development Consent. Gatwick’s current position breaches government policy and represents a major democratic deficit.

From initial discussions, it would appear many Councils believe there is little they can do to bring Gatwick’s main runway growth within the scope of a DCO process or another robust planning process.

That is also not right. We believe there are numerous steps Councils could take to ensure that all Gatwick’s proposed growth is properly scrutinised, as it is at every other major UK airport. The Annex to this letter sets out the legal and policy positions and suggests a series of specific actions Councils could consider.

In particular, Councils can ask the Secretary of State to direct that Gatwick’s main runway development be considered an NSIP requiring development consent using his powers under section 35 of the Planning Act 2008. We urge you to do so. Such action would impose no additional burdens on your Council, but would ensure that the consequences of Gatwick’s growth were properly scrutinised and that you, and the residents you represent, have a voice.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this proposal, and other potential actions, with you, your Cabinet colleagues and relevant officers.

Yours sincerely

Peter Barclay
Chair, Gatwick’s Big Enough coalition

The letter was sent to:

To Leaders of Gatwick Host and Neighbouring councils:

Peter Lamb, Leader, Crawley Borough Council
Keith Glazier, Leader, East Sussex County Council
Stuart Selleck, Leader, Elmbridge Borough Council
John Beckett, Mayor of Epsom and Ewell
Caroline Reeves, Leader, Guildford Borough Council
Keith Mans, Leader, Hampshire County Council
Ray Dawe, Leader, Horsham District Council
Roger Gough, Leader, Kent County Council
Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader, Mid Sussex District Council Stephen Cooksey, Leader, Mole Valley District Council Mark Brunt, Leader, Reigate & Banstead Borough Council Tony Elias, Leader, Tandridge District Council
Peter Fleming, Leader, Sevenoaks District Council
Tim Oliver, Leader, Surrey County Council
Paul Marshall, Leader, West Sussex County Council
John Ward, Leader, Waverley Borough Council
Robert Standley, Leader, Wealden District Council
Eileen Lintill, Leader, Chichester District Council

Chief Executive officers, Gatwick Host and Neighbouring Authorities


See earlier:

Groups write to Government asking for a moratorium on airport expansion planning applications

Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports  [including GACC, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign] have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion.  The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged.  Many UK airports are seeking – or have announced their intention to seek – planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017.  There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or  policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises,  “limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”. The letter says: “Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications.”

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Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) announce a major campaign to challenge Gatwick’s Master Plan

Under the banner Gatwick’s Big Enough community groups around Gatwick have joined forces with GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) to call Gatwick to account over their Master Plan growth proposals.  The airport plans to grow to be the size of Heathrow today, with an increase in flights in the next 10 years to 390,000 pa (1,050 or more per day), and passenger numbers to 70 million passengers per year (190,000 or more per day). By contrast the current numbers are around  283,000 flights in 2018, and 46 million passengers.  That growth will bring increased misery to thousands through noise, pollution and impacts on local infrastructure.  They also mean a massive increase in CO2 emissions caused by the additional flights estimated at an increase of almost 1 million tonnes CO2 (circa 37% increase) per annum by 2050. The new campaign group is already challenging Gatwick’s attempts to bypass full scrutiny on its main runway growth plans through use of the Planning Permitted Development processes. It has made a submission to the Planning Inspectorate for Gatwick’s use of its emergency runway to be fully used. It is also planning challenges to plans for a 3rd runway.

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