The man who holds the future of Gatwick Airport in his hands has paid a visit to Crawley.
Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, was at the town hall on Wednesday (July 9) to meet with councillors and campaign groups.
Sir Howard heads a five-person group charged with examining the need for additional runway capacity across the country as well as possible locations for airport expansion.
His final report is due to be presented to the Government in the summer of 2015.
Among those who met with him at the town hall were Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council; Cllr Peter Smith, of Crawley Borough Council; Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business; and members of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, which is opposed to increased runway capacity anywhere.
During the discussion, the possibility of Gatwick not being selected for expansion was raised.
Expansion has been enthusiastically backed by the town’s business community, while the county council has given its support in principle.
Discussing the impact on the economy should Gatwick not be selected, Cllr Goldsmith said: “It would still have a role but we would have to think quite long and hard to see what we could do to support the local economy.”
Mr Taylor predicted Gatwick would continue to grow even if it did not receive a second runway but warned the growth would be in short-haul domestic flights while business flights would be routed through Heathrow.
He added: “The increased traffic at Gatwick, in smaller aircraft, will lead to greater pressure on slots and, in fact, will lead to increased demand for day-long operation as well as increase demand on the shoulders and at night times.
“Those who oppose could be making the local noise environment worse.”
In September, Crawley Borough Council opted not to express a view on expansion until more information was made available from the Airports Commission allowing a more informed decision to be made.