County council to discuss second runway at Gatwick

JPCT 310714 S14320452x Rusper.  Aircraft. Plane. Over Rusper -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140108-163738001
JPCT 310714 S14320452x Rusper. Aircraft. Plane. Over Rusper -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140108-163738001

Councillors will scrutinise and debate West Sussex County Council’s official response to a public consultation into options for additional airport capacity in the south east.

The meetings, which will be held later this month, will discuss the authority’s position on a second runway at Gatwick as it responds to the Airports Commission’s current consultation.

The Airports Commission published a detailed report in November which outlined the options to increase airport capacity by building a second runway at Gatwick or expanding Heathrow.

The report analysed the cost of each option, property loss and construction, the effect on communities, noise, and the economic benefits and environmental impacts.

WSCC’s Environmental and Community Services Select Committee members will scrutinise the council’s draft response when it meets on January 14.

The agenda, which includes a copy of the council’s draft 94-page response, is available online at www.westsussex.gov.uk

The meeting starts at 10.30am and will be webcast live at www.westsussex.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

A special council meeting has been organised for Monday January 19, so members of WSCC can consider and debate the authority’s response, including any recommendations made by the select committee.

The cabinet member for highways and transport will then take the final decision on the response.

Pieter Montyn, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “Since the consultation launched in November we have been encouraging people to take part in it and make their views known.

“We know there is significant opposition to expanding Gatwick but we also know that the economic benefits for the county would be huge.

“It’s important that all members of the council are given the opportunity to discuss and debate how we plan for either scenario (a new Gatwick runway or not) before we make an official response.”

The decision whether or not to have a second runway at Gatwick will be decided by the new government after the general election.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, believes WSCC should start planning now for whatever decision is made.

She said : “If there is to be a second runway at Gatwick Airport then we need to consider how best to mitigate the effects on local communities and the environment.

“If the Government opts for expansion at Heathrow Airport this would also be considerable news for the county.

“We would have to consider how we optimise the benefits of Gatwick Airport in its current configuration, there will still be growth but it will be very different and the impact and supporting infrastructure will need to be planned differently but no less carefully.”

The full council meeting on January 19 will be held at County Hall North in Horsham at 10.30am and will be webcast live at www.westsussex.gov.uk

Due to space limitations anyone wishing to attend is asked to email democratic.services@westsussex.gov.uk to reserve a ticket.

The full council agenda will be published on Thursday January 8 and available at www.westsussex.gov.uk