Another delay to the decision over whether Gatwick airport should be expanded is causing renewed uncertainty for residents, claims Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin decided to put the issue on hold after the EU Referendum result, which led to an announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron that he is to resign.
Mr McLoughlin believes that the matter should be left until a new leader is in place despite a government-commissioned report which recommended that the South-East’s best option for increasing air capacity would be at Heathrow.
MP Tom Tugendhat, who led a debate at Westminster on the impact of present flight paths around Gatwick Airport, felt the latest setback is a further blow to campaigners eager for the issue to be resolved.
He said: “Almost a year ago to the day, the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies was clear in its recommendations that Gatwick Airport was not suitable to be expanded. This was a comprehensive report that came to a clear conclusion.
“I am very disappointed to hear that a decision on this report has been delayed yet again. This increases uncertainty for communities who are affected by flights approaching airports in South East England.
“I will be writing to the Transport Secretary to establish why we have to wait even longer to implement the Airports Commission’s recommendation, in full, when their report was so clear on the best option for the economic prosperity in our country.”
Campaign groups including Gatwick Obviously Not have argued the airport is unsuitable to be extended because existing flight paths have blighted residents and businesses in the Tonbridge area.
Campaigners were expecting a final decision last December, but they were made to wait when it was decided that additional information on pollution and compensation was needed.
The British Chambers of Commerce has claimed the government was entirely in a position to state its decision regardless of the leadership campaign.
Its assessment was also shared by national business group the CBI, which said that further delaying the decision could potentially cost the economy billions in falling behind rival cities’ airport expansion plans.