The Gatwick Coordination Group (GCG) has submitted its consultation response to the Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission.
The Group, chaired by Reigate MP, Crispin Blunt, is formed of six Gatwick Area MPs who came together in 2014 to represent serious local concerns over plans for a second runway at Gatwick Airport. Whilst precluded from being a member of the Group as a member of the Government, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Horsham MP, The Rt Hon Francis Maude, has also endorsed the submission.
In Autumn 2014, the Airports Commission shortlisted plans for a second runway at Gatwick Airport and two plans for Heathrow Airport; an elongated second runway or the building of a third runway. The Commission has run a 12-week consultation on each of these proposals which closes on 3rd February 2015. The Commission will then report later this year with a final recommendation to the Government as to which option it believes should be taken forward. The Gatwick Coordination Group has submitted a detailed consultation response which focusses on challenging the Gatwick proposal.
Crispin Blunt commented "The Gatwick Coordination Group's consultation response exposes the weakness of, but also the danger in, Gatwick Airport's proposals. Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) mistakenly maintains that a second runway at Gatwick Airport is practically and politically the most easily delivered option. Our consultation response exposes these assertions.
Our report examines six central themes which we believe prove that a second runway at Gatwick Airport would not only be a catastrophe for surrounding communities, but would also be an entirely wrong answer to the important question of the future of the UK's global aviation status. The GCG report analyses:
1) The absence of any serious plan to improve surface access to Gatwick, which is already at breaking point. As presented Gatwick's proposal is not resilient at all. GCG identify the necessary substantial implications for local and regional transport infrastructure to address this.
2) Gatwick fail to explain how the required new workforce will be found. Massive regional housing development would be required for an expanded airport by planning authorities who cannot meet existing demand. The devastating consequent impact on towns, communities and countryside is highlighted as well as the cost of new social infrastructure.
3) The disproportionate effect of additional aircraft noise on rural and previously tranquil communities.
4) Serious questions over Gatwick's financing and whether the company's proposals would in reality be backed by its investors.
5) The proposal's £100 billion deficit on economic benefit to the UK compared to either Heathrow option, and Gatwick's speculative argument that the global aviation market will move away from the proven hub model.
6) Gatwick's lack of transparency and accountability during the Commission process, and its failure to engage with local communities throughout the consultation process.
Crispin Blunt MP, speaking on behalf of the Group, said "The Gatwick Coordination Group believes that this appraisal will help Sir Howard Davies find strongly against Gatwick's speculative proposals when set alongside the Heathrow options. The final decision will be for the next government, but we hope the Commission will share our view that on any measure, local or national, this is not a finely balanced argument. A recommendation and decision for a second runway at Gatwick would be a catastrophe for local communities and a disaster for the national interest."