Some Crawley Borough Council members have concerns the adverse impact of more airport capacity going somewhere other than Gatwick is being exaggerated.
Last Wednesday (September 11) the cabinet met to discuss three options which will be before the council on September 23 at a meeting about the future of the airport.
The options were to remain opposed to expansion; to reserve judgement until further information on the impact is available or to agree Gatwick’s proposal is put forward to stage two by the Airports Commission where more detailed assessments would be gained during the evidence gathering in 2014/15. The council could also be involved in further investigations at this time.
The cabinet chose not to recommend which option the council should favour, but both cabinet and backbench councillors had concerns.
Cllr Michael Jones vice chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee (Lab, Bewbush) reported the committee’s earlier discussion on Gatwick. He said: “Members challenged quite strongly the evidence available in terms of adverse economic impact of not have a second runway. They feel a worst case scenario has been chosen as a default argument.
“One member said that when the whole issue came about some years ago, the argument by the council was to oppose a second runway because it was not running at full capacity. It is still not at full capacity.”
He added that members also asked what it was costing the local economy to keep the land reserved for a runway.
Gatwick currently has 25 per cent spare capacity handling 34.2 million passengers last year. By 2030 it could grow to handle around 45 million passengers a year at which point it would be full.
Cllr Bob Lanzer (Con, Pound Hill South and Worth), cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “Even when you look at the jobs argument from both sides - having the additional jobs and houses and not having jobs and houses if capacity goes elsewhere - about 5-6,000 jobs could disappear but over what geographical area. What’s the reduction in jobs in what is a very high employment area. Is it fatal?”
Leader of the Conservative group Cllr Howard Bloom (Con, Southgate) said they should stay engaged in the debate adding it was ‘too early to know what the proposal is’.