Residents against expansion of Gatwick Airport have reacted with anger to the airport’s canvassing of areas around Heathrow.
The protest group, Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions, were commenting after London Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate told Surrey media the airport would be delivering 400,000 leaflets in Surrey, Berkshire and London.
The leaflets, entitled Limit Noise over London, draw direct comparisons between expanding Heathrow with Gatwick.
CAGNE chair Sally Pavey said: “This is a costly exercise but simply illustrates that Gatwick can’t find support in the surrounding counties and so have to try persuade Heathrow residents to become ‘nimbys’ and support putting the same misery of Heathrow here in West Sussex countryside.”
The Airports Commission is considering two options for expansion at Heathrow: a third runway and an extension of one of its two existing runways.
Speaking to the regional press in the Heathrow area Mr Wingate echoed his message to Sussex saying thousands more residents would be affected by expansion there rather than at Gatwick.
Mrs Pavey added: “We simply do not trust Gatwick as they have spent no time with us local residents engaging. Mr Wingate definitely seems to have a problem with numbers and ignores that Gatwick is surrounded by rural communities with tranquillity and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that trade on tranquillity.
“CAGNE would like to pass this message to Mr Wingate: ‘We in Sussex, Surrey and Kent are not ‘nimbys’ and it is sad that you prey on those that suffer now but care nothing for those you will inflict with noise and the urbanisation of some of the most beautiful countryside in England’.”
A spokesman from Gatwick Airport said: “Airport expansion is a significant issue for local communities but as the debate enters its final stages, thousands of residents are likely to be unaware their lives could be blighted by Heathrow expansion.
“Over 320,000 people – a population the size of Coventry - would be newly affected by noise across Berkshire, West London and Surrey so we feel it is important to shine a light on this crucial issue.
“At Gatwick we have never shied away from the fact that expansion will mean more noise - these leaflets and maps show that Gatwick would impact less than five per cent of the numbers affected by noise at Heathrow. This means that Gatwick will be able to compensate those most affected by paying their council tax each year – something Heathrow can’t begin to do.
“Gatwick remains the obvious and only deliverable solution – expanding Gatwick will give London two world-class airports, allowing Heathrow to get better but not bigger and avoiding hundreds of thousands more people being newly affected by noise.”