The expansion of Gatwick Airport is back on the table after it emerged a decision on Heathrow’s future had been delayed for an environmental review. Here Sally Pavey, of the Commuters Against Gatwick Noise Emissions (CAGNE) pressure group, makes the case against it...
We must not be asked to pay the high price of improving Zac Goldsmith’s chances of election in May in the race for the new London mayor.
CAGNE wrote to Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (and as a member of the aviation sub-committee) last week explaining how the government’s delay (on Heathrow) is putting his consistency on hold.
For years, communities around Gatwick have lived under the threat that the airport will be allowed to expand and irreversibly damage the quality of life for the tens of thousands of us who have made our homes here.
We already know the impact of Gatwick Airport low cost airlines as they fly over our homes, day and night, seven days a week, and we are sure that Mr Clark’s inbox is full from upset residents asking for the Gatwick noise to be removed.
But Gatwick plan to increase the noise for us all by flying 560,000 aircraft above our homes annually, so that they can profit their owners. Gatwick, as it was clearly shown by the Airports’ Commission report recently, brings in the least into the UK economy and would employ much fewer staff. Gatwick’s
number one customer, EasyJet, does not see Gatwick expansion as the way forward. The commission’s report goes on to suggest that the mass housing that Gatwick would dictate would be spread around counties so how much urbanisation would Mr Greg’s consistency be facing as 45,000 new houses are expected from day one as well as warehousing to service an airport larger than Heathrow?
What is frustrating is that no environmental audit has been undertaken on Gatwick, as it would be the same size as Heathrow but with one railway line that can’t be expanded, and a new line is ruled out, and the M23 that would be full before Gatwick is finished.
Gatwick’s figures are very disingenuous, as they do not have to consider the pollution from the roads or the areas of outstanding natural beauty destroyed by expansion destroyed by expanding.
The Airports Commission process was lengthy and its conclusion crystal clear, which led many of us to believe the uncertainty – and the blight – in the communities around Gatwick might be finally over and Gatwick could concentrate on dealing with the current issues with aircraft noise.
It would seem that, at best, we are being used in a political game and one Greg Clark is party to, to stop Zac Goldsmith from triggering a by-election and to appease Boris Johnson. At worst, Gatwick’s expensive lobbying has succeeded in spinning Gatwick’s half-truths that Gatwick can ever be anything but a bucket and spade airport as it is not in London and services only those communities that surround it.
Five airports surround London, which is more than New York, why not let people fly from those airports that sit underused around the M25 and stop putting everything in one corner to please airport owners.
All the things we currently enjoy will have to bear the weight of an airport with 95m passengers a year and migrating workers all looking for somewhere to live, GPs, hospitals, schools, bringing with them more cars to add to our already congested roads.
They may think Gatwick is the easy option because this is the story that Gatwick has sold, but if the Government and Greg Clark read the truth, ie Gatwick’s proposals, they would have seen, as Sir Howard Davies did, they are very flawed, a fact that 12 local authorities, numerous councils and the many senior MPs have who oppose Gatwick 2 as they recognise that Gatwick can never be the answer for the UK economy or aviation.