Council votes ‘no’ on second runway at Gatwick Airport

SUS-150127-111443001
SUS-150127-111443001

Crawley Borough Council has voted to oppose expansion at Gatwick Airport.

Councillors aired their views and took part in a free vote at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Full Council on Monday (January 26).

The result – 25 votes to 11 against the building of a second runway – will be included in a detailed response submitted by the council to the Airports Commission.

Only Cllr Liam Marshall-Ascough (Con, Southgate) failed to attend the meeting.

Noise, traffic and housing needs were among the concerns raised as was the physical impact a second runway would have on the town.

Cllr Keith Blake (Con, Gossops Green) was one of several councillors who felt residents did not fully appreciate how large the expanded airport would be.

At 10,000ft in length by 500ft wide, he said it would be like having Dartford’s Queen Elizabeth Bridge sitting at the top of Manor Royal.

On the opposite side of the coin, council leader Cllr Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) warned there would be economic consequences if a runway was not built.

He said: “If Heathrow expands, Gatwick stands to lose 6,000 airport related jobs. That’s existing jobs, not future jobs.”

Cllr Lamb added: “Low-cost airlines might still want to stay at Gatwick but trying to build an airport purely on the basis of EasyJet is a recipe for disaster.”

Cllr Brenda Burgess (Con, Three Bridges) said she had felt “blackmailed and a little bullied” by such claims.

She was one of several councillors who did not subscribe to the suggestion Crawley would wither and die without a second runway.

Cllr Geraint Thomas (Lab, Northgate) said: “The second runway is not some sort of last chance saloon. Crawley should have the self-confidence to mould its own urban future.”

The Airports Commission’s public consultation ends on February 3. The council’s submission will highlight inaccuracies in employment and housing figures being considered by the commission. It will also state Crawley’s estimated infrastructure requirements – money for things such as new roads – had been “seriously under-estimated”.

In addition, it will ask the commission to undertake more work on noise and air quality impacts.

A spokesman for Gatwick said: “While obviously disappointed at this decision, we will continue to work closely with Crawley Borough Council to illustrate the benefits of expansion. We will also do as much as possible to minimise, mitigate against, or compensate for the effects of a second runway, including the impact of aircraft noise on local residents.”