Dossier left on train shows airport’s plans to lobby for second runway at Gatwick

Gatwick Airport SUS-140619-104433001
Gatwick Airport SUS-140619-104433001

Secret plans to influence decision makers over a second runway at Gatwick Airport have been made public after a dossier was left on a train.

The document, which has been seen by the Crawley Observer after extracts were published in the Sunday Times, sheds light on the campaign to convince the Airports Commission to select Gatwick as the preferred option for expansion when it makes a recommendation to central Government in 2015.

The independent body, led by Sir Howard Davies, shortlisted a second runway at Gatwick and a third runway at Heathrow as two of the options to increase runway capacity in the South East back in December.

The dossier argues that a ‘systematic approach’ is needed to target around 100 key individuals who have significant influence with the Commission and ‘convert them to our side, or at least to neutralise the prevailing default bias that we perceive exists in favour of Heathrow’.

This follows ‘useful engagement’ with Number 10, the Shadow Chancellor, Liberal Democrats, and a number of other important officials.

It also expressed the need to win over those advising the opinion leaders, press, local communities, and businesses large and small.

Proposed actions listed include seeking opportunities to meet key influencers, developing press interest around its consultation report, moving forward an idea of a coalition of South London boroughs against Heathrow, and a mailshot when Parliament returns in September.

A spokesperson for the airport said: “Gatwick’s impact on the local community – even with a second runway – would be equivalent to less than five per cent of the people Heathrow impacts today.

“Given the fundamental importance of the issue to the decision we are undertaking our own research which is ongoing. This is the first time that Gatwick has ever been able to forcefully put its case forward for expansion.

“It wouldn’t surprise anyone to know therefore that we would want as many people as possible to understand the merits of our case. We are playing catch up with Heathrow’s decades of lobbying for a third runway.”

But Sally Pavey, a leading campaigner against a second runway, said the document ‘shows the lengths Gatwick will go to influence those people who we have elected to represent us’.