Crispin Blunt responds to Thames Estuary Airport decision

Crispin Blunt, MP for Reigate and Chair of the Gatwick Coordination Group, a group of Backbench MPs with constituencies close to Gatwick, made the following statement this morning in response to the Howard Davies Airports Commission's decision to rule out a Thames Estuary option:

"The reasons given for the Airports Commission's decision are profoundly depressing. Sir Howard Davies cites his expectation of the unwillingness of future Governments to underwrite the necessary infrastructure expenditure, and the inevitable environmental and legal challenges that would accompany any major scale project. The wretched logic of this means that the Commission is not seeking the right answer, but the path of least resistance. It all points to a lack of imagination and political funk which demolishes the credibility of the entire exercise from a national interest perspective.

Key arguments such as the need for a national hub airport and an examination of the long-term UK interest could be abandoned for short-term political considerations.

Gatwick Airport Limited make much of the fact that a second runway is physically easier to construct sooner at Gatwick, whilst ignoring the lack of any available local labour force to staff an airport of Heathrow's current size, and the necessary imposition of massive housing and land transport infrastructure expenditure over the long-term.

These are the show-stopping issues, but they will be set against the politics of existing noise pollution at Heathrow, which is the most effective recruiting sergeant to a political campaign. Aircraft technology should mean noise will relatively decline as a factor, whilst in the long-term Gatwick would require wholesale surrender of much of Sussex's countryside for the housing and businesses to support 95 million passengers a year, and probably the imposed lifting of Green Belt protection for much of Kent and Surrey as well.

Short-term considerations could mean we end up with no national hub, and a major airport in the wrong place. This would come at appalling, irreversible environmental cost on the ground, driving yet more national jobs to the already over-stretched South East, at an unquantifiable cost to the rest of the country."