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20/06/2014

MPs oppose new runway at Gatwick

Words: Sam Waddicor

Five conservative MPs have started a campaign against proposals to build a second runway at Gatwick Airport.

The MPs, who represent constituencies in Surrey, Sussex and Kent, are concerned about the impact on the local community and environment that the extension of the airport near Crawley would bring.

Reigate MP Crispin Blunt, member of the newly formed Gatwick Coordination Group, is concerned that Gatwick hasn’t thought through where the airport is going to source its new staff to run the expansion as he believes there isn’t the capacity in local communities. He also highlighted that the London to Brighton train line was already one of the busiest in the country and without a new railway line current infrastructure would not be able to cope.

The other four MPs behind the campaign are Sir Paul Beresford, who represents Mole Valley, Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames, Sir John Stanley, who represents Tonbridge and Malling in Kent, and Charles Hendry, MP for Wealden.

However, the MPs are not supported by all voices in the region. MP for Crawley, Henry Smith, was invited to endorse the press release but declined, saying: “Whilst I think Gatwick needs to make a stronger case on how it would invest in upgrading Crawley's infrastructure if the airport were to expand, I think it premature to rule out an additional runway until the Davies Commission investigating aviation capacity has reported next year."

There is also division among county councils in the region, with Surrey against the plans but West and East Sussex backing the project due to the job creation and economic boost it could provide.

The proposals have three variations that are up for consultation. The common features of all three are that the new runway would be south of the existing one; that the River Mole would be diverted to the west; and the A23 to the east of the airport. The differences vary from how much space would be needed to the way the runways would be used.

In its material about the project, Gatwick itself says: “Gatwick’s plan for a second runway will result in much lower noise and air pollution impacts affecting less than six per cent of the people currently affected by noise at Heathrow. A second runway at Gatwick would cost significantly less than expansion at Heathrow and would all be privately funded.”

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