Nik Butler: Don’t fall for buzzwords, Diamonds are not forever

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Horsham District is ‘apparently’ part of the Gatwick Diamond.

The “Diamond” is a notional idea developed to create economic benefit by highlighting the relationship between the central value of Gatwick airport and the surrounding secondary and tertiary businesses.

If you google the term “Gatwick Diamond” you may well find yourself bombarded by buzzwords like sustainable, economic, knowledge based, and so on.

At its heart the concept is just another business networking opportunity; wrapped in a pleasant collection of websites and soundbites. Quite unsurprisingly the Gatwick Diamond forms part of discussion surrounding the District’s economic development and planning framework. Which leads to an interesting question as to why that should be important?

In looking back and forth between the development framework and the references to the Gatwick Diamond it is hard to understand how it will be possible to embrace and encourage an involvement within said Gatwick Diamond without supporting the need for a second runway.

It may be a softening up process to make a bitter pill easier to swallow but if I were looking to the future development in and around Sussex and Surrey all the signs appear to be pointing towards that second runway.

Now I am not against a second runway; but I do think some of the reasons put forward to support or reject it should be opened up and thoroughly reviewed. The phrase “sustainable” should be the first on the midden heap of marketing; there is nothing sustainable in the combustion of jet fuel until we find alternative renewable fuels for those jets.

Suggestions that a countryside will be demolished are empty words when you consider most of that “countryside” is mostly farm land and private fields; hardly nature in its wild abundance. Jobs will be created, possibly, but are they jobs with a salary suitable enough to afford local properties?

Don’t be taken in by buzz words or marketing; the Gatwick Diamond only benefits businesses and shareholders. This in itself is not the problem.

The problem comes when you neglect to consider the whole infrastructure required to deliver support to that idea. Property and business units without hospitals, schools, broadband and flood protection will eventually find the cost of hiring employees prohibitive as we are already experiencing in the exodus of big business from Horsham. Diamonds may be a girls best friend but for this, commuting, market town Diamonds are not forever.