Responding to Gatwick Diamond's extraordinary press statement yesterday, Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate, and Chair of the Gatwick Coordination Group (GGC), a group of Backbench MPs with constituencies close to Gatwick, said,
"Gatwick Diamond urged has Boris Johnson to support Gatwick expansion now he has put himself forward for selection as the Conservative candidate in Uxbridge, and because the Airport Commission has dismissed "Boris Island". But Boris knows Gatwick is a non-starter, and he has rightly attacked the Davies Commission's decision, continuing his political support for the estuary option. I am delighted that Boris has the intellectual integrity not to be persuaded to change from his vision of an Estuary airport even with his interests of becoming an MP for Uxbridge.
The Gatwick Coordination Group will continue our work to point out the rather obvious difficulties of the Gatwick option to the Davies Commission. What the Gatwick Diamond businesses fail to understand is the traumatic impact that a second runway at Gatwick would have on the people that live here. That is linked to the other key factor that they have failed to grasp: there is no local labour force to staff an airport with more passengers than Heathrow. Gatwick Diamond businesses can't find workers now to fill their vacancies so where on earth are 122,000 jobs flowing from a vastly bigger Gatwick going to be filled from?
Only yesterday evening at an event with Margot James MP, who is the No 10 policy board lead on the economy, business and trade, did one business leader explain to me how his operations in Surrey and Sussex were restricted from growing due to a lack of availability of local staff. He is now contemplating building houses so that he can house new workers from the north to work around Gatwick. That will be replicated 100,000 times over if Gatwick expansion is given the go-ahead. Much of Surrey, Sussex and Kent would be despoiled through the building of homes for all the workers who would have to move here from elsewhere in the UK, or Europe, to staff the airport.
"Where will new workers come from?" and "where are they going to live?" are questions that both Gatwick Airport and Gatwick Diamond can't answer.
We simply do not have the idle work force here in the southeast to staff a vastly bigger business at Gatwick. Gatwick Diamond need to appreciate that a labour market shortage is already the key limitation on local business growth, and if they've got a problem now both they and an expanded Gatwick will be in a load of trouble in the future. The price of sorting that out would be a collapse in the high quality of life locally.
...All to get an airport in the wrong place which isn't a UK hub."