MP urges county council to oppose new runway

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Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert has urged West Sussex county councillors to reject plans for a second runway at Gatwick, calling it ‘an unsustainable proposal that will damage our villages, towns and countryside’.

The MP wrote to county councillors ahead of their Environmental and Community Select Committee meeting held yesterday (Wednesday January 14), and the Full Council meeting on Monday 19 January, which are considering the authority’s response to the Airport Commission’s consultation document on airport expansion in the South East.

Mr Herbert expressed his concern that ‘the environmental impact of a second runway on rural West Sussex has not been fully understood’ and highlights the impact of 250,000 more flights on tranquil rural communities.

The MP also warned that a second runway would add to development pressures in West Sussex ‘which are already acute’, pointing out that the county council’s own study concluded that new jobs created by a new runway would require 30,000 to 45,000 new homes, equivalent to a new town the size of Crawley, or around 1,000 houses added to 40 villages.

Mr Herbert pointed out that since the planning inspector had said Mayfield Market Towns’ plans for a new 10,000-home settlement near Henfield was ‘not required in current circumstances’ before Christmas, he warned that a second runway would require Horsham’s housing plans to be revised.

The MP says that the public ‘should be made fully aware that local plans which are already requiring controversial housing developments would have to be revised if a second runway were agreed; that villages would be required to take even more housing with more loss of countryside and green spaces; and that deeply unpopular proposed major developments such as the Mayfield new town would be more likely to win approval’.

He added: “I do not believe that significantly more housing than already planned could be allocated in West Sussex over the next two decades without fundamentally risking the rural character of much of our county and causing enormous public concern.”