Campaigners against expansion at Gatwick have vowed to ‘tell Mr Corbyn the truth’ after the Labour leader ‘missed the point’ in supporting the airport.
Speaking during a visit to Crawley, one of the most fiercely anti-Gatwick areas in the southeast, last week, Mr Corbyn said he was ‘open’ to expansion there while ruling out backing a third runway at Heathrow over ‘real concerns’ about the environmental impact.
He said: “I’m not supporting Heathrow because of the pollution problems. There is still some capacity at Gatwick and Gatwick could expand beyond 2019.
“Runway capacity needs to be looked at across the whole of the southeast.”
Sally Pavey, chair of Communities against Gatwick Noise Emissions, told the Times: “From his statement it would seem as though the Gatwick lobbyists have got to him and he hasn’t listened to any of the residents in the area he’s been visiting.
“They are categorically opposed to a second runway at Gatwick. So much so that the Labour candidate here didn’t win the last election because he supported the airport.”
Mrs Pavey believes this support does neither Mr Corbyn’s candidate nor his party any favours, and is based upon false and missing information. She said: “We will endeavour to tell Mr Corbyn the truth. We will try and meet with him and provide him with the facts. We’ve already sent him a glossy brochure that lays out all the relevant and specific information.
“It makes me laugh that he was in a school when he made these comments, when one of the biggest concerns over expansion is the huge influx of migrating workers and families looking for in spaces in schools, housing, hospitals and doctors, all things we do not have at present.
“As for the environment, he doesn’t seem to appreciate that Gatwick would be bigger than Heathrow, and we only have one road and one railway line. The pollution, and congestion, would be so much greater.
“Corbyn missed the point that Gatwick expansion will cost the taxpayer billions and result in worse pollution than we see at Heathrow today.”
A Tunbridge Wells pressure group, TW No to Gatwick, was launched last month in response to the growing and ‘intolerable’ impact the airport is already having on communities.
Kevin Kerrigan, Labour candidate for Tunbridge Wells at the last election, said: “Labour has not made any decision whatsoever on where it stands on airport expansion in the south and discussions within the party are ongoing.”