GP fears airport bid will increase town pollution

A retired GP believes a second runway at Gatwick Airport would lead to a ‘disastrous’ increase in Crawley’s air pollution.

Dr Paul Stillman, a former senior partner at Leacroft Medical Practice claimed increased pollution from planes and vehicle traffic would worsen high levels of respiratory illnesses in neighbourhoods near the airport.

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said studies on the effect the second runway would have on roads showed the GP’s fears about increased road traffic were inaccurate.

The spokesman added it had not breached EU and UK annual air quality limits. The airport would maintain its ‘100 per cent’ record should the runway be built.

Dr Stillman, 68, of Pound Hill, who worked in Langley Green for nearly 40 years, believed Gatwick expansion would lead to ‘considerable’ increases in air pollution and noise in Crawley, a similar decrease in the standard of living and a fall in townspeople’s health within 15 years of the runway and associated infrastructure being built.

He said: “I think that’s disastrous because living in an area is not simply about the prosperity, it’s about the quality of life that you have.

“I cannot really see this is going to benefit the community and it certainly would have a poor effect on the people who live in that part of the world.”

He said people living in Langley Green, Ifield and Crawley’s new neighbourhood, Forge Wood, would be worst affected.

Dr Stillman said: “Throughout my professional time in general practice in that part of the town [Langley Green] certainly we saw a quite substantial rise in the number of respiratory illnesses - we saw particularly asthma, particularly in children.

“You’ve got a lot of people for whatever reason are suffering of something, of which some of it certainly is reversable - the last thing you want to do is make that worse.”

Dr Stillman said pollution was triggering asthma and other lung-related attacks across the neighbourhood.

He said the airport’s effect on the increasing rate of lung-related conditions across the area played on his mind during his medical career.

A Gatwick Airport spokesman said: “Neither our modelling or that of the Airports Commission, or comments by West Sussex County Council suggest that this is an accurate picture of the impact of a second runway on local roads.

“Gatwick Airport has never breached EU and UK annual air quality limits and would maintain this 100 per cent air quality record with a second runway.

“We have also committed to a range of measures that would improve journey times for local road users and manage all traffic better if the airport expands.

“In addition, Gatwick would create a £10 million Local Highway Development Fund to meet any additional work required to improve local roads.”