LETTER: Answer to avoid blighting Heathrow area will not be to blight Gatwick area instead

Your views.
Your views.

In response to Mr Bryant’s letter of Saturday 25th July.

Mr Bryant makes much of the reduced noise of modern aircraft. However, if they were as quiet as he claims, there would be fewer complaints about the revised flight paths being used from Gatwick, wouldn’t there? Or are those people just nimbys, too? The fact is that Gatwick does not have, and cannot have, the necessary infrastructure to support an additional runway, without enormous cost and disruption. Whatever the situation regarding the western section of the M25, we should recognise that Heathrow has a motorway and two dual carriageways into London.

There is no equivalent road network into London from Gatwick. The M23 ends at the M25. After that, the A23, A22, A217 and A24 will all become clogged as airport users seek a route into and out of Gatwick. We could, of course, demolish several thousand houses, to extend the M23 into London, but who would seriously propose that?

The train link hardly counts. It is already at capacity at busy times and tinkering about with longer and more frequent trains will do little more than cope with the rapid development already taking place in the area, without any additional expansion of Gatwick.

The real problem here is that we may not be looking at the right question. If the question is, do we need more runway capacity in the south east, the answer is probably “no”. Stansted and Luton are operating well under capacity and then there is Manston.

However, if the question is, do we need a hub airport, the answer (according to the airlines at least), may be “yes”. Unfortunately, neither Heathrow nor Gatwick is suitable to be a hub. Nobody in their right mind would now design an airport with flight paths over populated areas. The problem is that the Government wants airport capacity, but on the cheap. That means the residents around Heathrow or Gatwick must suffer.

Arguments about creating more employment mean little in this area. It is readily acknowledged that there is insufficient local labour to build or operate an expanded Gatwick and that more people would come into the area from the rest of the UK and the EU.

They would need places to live and we are surely very aware that Crawley and other towns are struggling to find homes for the present population. You can expect much more development across West Sussex and Surrey to cope with the influx. That brings more pressure on schools, health services and other infrastructure.

Gatwick has insufficient infrastructure and never will have. It has insufficient labour. Its owners are interested only in making money, with no real thought for local people. It cannot be the answer. I might add here that I came from the Heathrow area. I know the villages of Harlington, Cranford, Harmondsworth and Sipson very well. I have absolutely no desire to see them ruined by another runway at Heathrow. However, the answer to avoid blighting the Heathrow area will not be to blight the Gatwick area instead.

The Airports Commission should be sent back to the drawing board, but this time without pressure from the Treasury. We might then see some radical thinking instead of the “same old, same old”.

Derek Hanks, Copthorne


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