Residents told to ‘wake up’ over airport expansion

EPSON scanner image SUS-150127-102549001
EPSON scanner image SUS-150127-102549001

Anti-expansion campaigners said they were concerned Crawley residents did not understand how far into town the airport would encroach if a second runway was built.

While celebrating Crawley Borough Council’s decision to vote against expansion, members of GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign), One’s Enough and CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions) called on people to “wake up” and realise what expansion would mean for the town.

In a joint statement, the groups urged residents to ask questions about the expansion and take part in the Airports Commission’s public consultation, which ends on Tuesday (February 3).

The statement said: “The new runway boundaries will have devastating affects on the north of Crawley, demolishing over 250 business premises at Lowfield Heath, City Place, the Beehive and on the northern edge of Manor Royal.

“To the east the airport would extend to the edge of the M23, South of Junction 9. And to the west it would extend into Horsham District incorporating an area of countryside and properties in Bonnetts Lane and Ifield Road.

“It is about the health of local residents as freight and cars increase tenfold with about 100,000 extra vehicles each day on the current congested roads systems.”

The groups also questioned where housing would be built for the influx of workers expansion would bring, especially considering Crawley’s inability to meet its current housing needs.

The concerns of the campaigners were shared by most at the Extraordinary Meeting of the Full Council on Monday (January 26), even those in favour of a second runway.

But for some, the benefits of expansion – not only to Gatwick but to Crawley – made the second runway an attractive prospect for the town’s future economy.

Cllr Stephen Joyce (Lab, Langley Green) said: “I’m concerned about the future of this town. I am also concerned about jobs going forward.

“The retail in the town centre is slowly dying but we’re trying to reinvigorate it. Manor Royal is dependent on Gatwick as well.”

In an attack on opponents of expansion, he said: “The very vocal minority are NIMBY’s.

“All they want is to sit back in their back gardens, sipping their G&T’s and not worrying about it.”

While supporting the idea of a second runway, Cllr Joyce agreed the information provided in the Airports Commission’s report into Gatwick was not very clear.

He added: “If the decision is for a runway to come to Gatwick I will welcome it but I think we have an awful lot of work to do to try to get the best deal for Crawley.”