Tunbridge Wells groups unhappy at possible Gatwick Airport expansion

    The prospect of a second runway at Gatwick – something that would have a significant impact across West Kent – is back on the agenda.

    The move comes after a public consultation into the planned third runway at Heathrow Airport was reopened last week following the publication, by the Department for Transport (DfT), of a report on its environmental impact.

    The DfT considers the West Sussex airport a less environmentally damaging choice than Gatwick.

    Gatwick itself has also announced it will seek to build a second runway.

    A spokesman said: “It is clear that demand for further airport capacity in the South East continues to grow.

    “That’s why we have reiterated our pledge to Government to build a second runway at Gatwick regardless of what happens at Heathrow.”

    If there is no expansion the two airports are in line to reach maximum capacity by 2034. The consultation closed in May but will now last until December.

    Complaints of noise and pollution from planes travelling to Gatwick have already been raised by residents of Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas.

    The Chair of Tunbridge Wells Anti-Aircraft Noise Group (TWAANG),

    Irene Fairburn, said: “Another runway at Gatwick would mean a huge increase in low flying planes 24 hours a day over Tunbridge Wells.

    “The nearby villages and countryside will lose any sense of tranquillity. Put simply a second runway would destroy the quality of life in this corner of the south east.

    “There will be severe road and rail congestion plus an estimated influx of around 63,000 people needed to build and run the airport.”

    She added that the M25 would not be able to cope with an increase in traffic if both Gatwick and Heathrow were expanded.

    MP Greg Clark said aircraft noise is problematic in the town and feels the original choice of Heathrow is the better option.

    “The new runway should be at Heathrow. That was the clear and unambiguous recommendation after  an exhaustive inquiry.”