Frances Haigh, Lib Dem leader (October 16th), is seriously confused about the effects of a second Gatwick runway.
She starts off by quoting Ladybird books for an analysis of how Britain maintains its position as a great trading nation.
She repeats the old arguments about needing to fly in order to do business, ignoring the fact that the majority of passengers flying from Gatwick and other airports are tourists, not business people, and that more Brits holiday abroad than foreigners come here for a holiday, contributing a net loss to Britain’s trade balance. She then suggests that more employment at Gatwick means more prosperity for the region.
This ignores the net daily inflow of 30,000 commuters to Gatwick Airport and the surrounding businesses, leading to major congestion. She ignores the fact that the area of North Sussex around the airport cannot build a wall to keep jobs in and people out.
The result of a second runway would be more commuting, more congestion, and more urban sprawl in previously rural areas.
Frances Haigh rightly says that infrastructure is important for the health of our region. She ignores the fact that the only infrastructure being planned is a new runway, a new Gatwick station, a roundabout and some road diversion. This leaves our existing road and rail infrastructure creaking under a heavier load.
If we want to improve that, we the taxpayers will have to pay for it.
There is only one problem for aviation in the London area: it’s Heathrow.
Heathrow is full because most long-haul airlines want to fly from Heathrow. The airlines that want to fly from Gatwick want a low-cost airport. A second runway would have to be paid for by higher landing charges. That’s why EasyJet has said it is against a second runway.
Finally, she pontificates about air traffic control and the effects of having a runway near to capacity. The present runway at Gatwick is not at full capacity, and won’t be until 2030 at the earliest.
I thought that Lib Dems were in favour of an Integrated Transport Policy and were concerned about climate change. Frances Haigh doesn’t seem to have noticed that.
The sad thing is that by the time a new Gatwick runway would be at full capacity in 2050, we will be running out of fuel and global warming will be a much more urgent problem.
Looking back from 2050, we will see the error of our ways. Too late for me, but I don’t want to leave a ruined world for my grandchildren.
The Tithe, Ifield