Gatwick report slammed by business leaders and environmentalists

Posted On 01 Jul 2015 at 1:06 pm

A new report favouring a runway at Heathrow and not Gatwick has been slammed by people in Brighton and Hove – for very different reasons.

Gatwick Bridge by Adrian Scottow on Flickr

Gatwick Bridge by Adrian Scottow on Flickr

Business leaders say if Gatwick does not get a second runway, the city will miss out on “enormous knock-on benefits”.

But environmentalists say neither scheme should go ahead, and that the effects of air pollution on the region far outweigh any economic boost.

Geoffrey Theobald, leader of the Conservative group on the city council and a member of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, said: “It is very disappointing that Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission has not come out in favour of a second runway at Gatwick which I personally think had by far the better case.

“Of course the final decision rests now with the Government and I hope that they may still be persuaded to go with Gatwick as I believe it will have enormous knock-on benefits for the economy of the Greater Brighton area.

“I very much hope that this doesn’t now knock back the growing momentum for a second Brighton rail mainline – BML2 – something which I believe is vital for the area, regardless of the final Gatwick decision.”

And his comments were echoed by the Coast to Capital LEP, which said: “Our view remains that Gatwick is clearly the best choice. It is the most deliverable option, with the least impact on the environment and the lowest cost. We would urge the Government to be decisive and to give the all options full consideration and we hope that Gatwick will finally be given the green light.”

However, Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Chris Todd said the best option would be for no extra runways, and instead called for the aviation industry and frequent flyers to be taxed more.

He said: “At the moment, the airline industry is not paying for the damage it’s causing – there’s no tax paid on airline fuel even though it’s contributing to climate change.

“The impact in the south east from the air pollution and noise pollution are serious issues. Poor air quality is killing 29,000 people in the UK every year, and 115 people a year die prematurely in Brighton and Hove.

“The trains can’t cope at the moment and the government doesn’t seem to be that serious at looking at alternatives like the Lewes to Uckfield line. Stick a runway at Gatwick and the whole thing is going to melt down completely.

“The business case is dubious too. Only 12% of all flights are business flights, and you could expand that within existing infrastructure.”

  1. Gerald Wiley Reply

    It’s all very well FOE and the greens not wanting any airport expansion, but other countries in Europe are expanding their capabilities and the end result is that anti-airport campaigners are damaging the British and local economies.

    It’s just a shame that these dangerously ideological pressure groups seem to have an undue influence on developments with their scaremongering about the dangers environmental impacts to airports.

    As an example, how does Chris Todd know what an expansion to runways at Gatwick would do to train services. And doesn’t the recent Thameslink expansion allow for more rail access to Gatwick?

    And what has BML2 and re-opening Lewes-Uckfield got to do with expansion of Gatwick.

  2. Arthur Petworth Reply

    Gethard Willy, talking of ‘dangerously ideological’, expanding Air Traffic and its use of Kerosene based fuel really is dangerous. Actually genuinelly dangerous as in Poisonous, Choking, Deadly and will accelerate climate change which will unleash even further danger. So yes it is all VERY well FOE pointing this out. As for the economy, invesment in Sustainable transport and renewable energy will create much more employment. An Economy based on people flying about in little death machines is a Time bomb of death!

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      @Arthur – but your ideological friends are doing absolutely nothing to improve the situation with airports in the rest of the world where they are looking to further expand flight capabilities.

      ‘Leading by example’ in the real world is just futile gesturing and our global competitors in the world must be lapping up our stupidity in accepting your qualitative emotional arguments.

      Perhaps if your activist friends looked at how to make flight less polluting rather than trying to drive us back to walking, cycling and the horse and cart, then you might get taken more seriously.

      Your scaremongering on everything as either being toxic or carcinogenic just reflects the simplistic activist attitude and the lack of any pragmatic realism.

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