LETTER: Plan looks ever more dubious

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There is much concern in your letter columns about the effect that a second runway at Gatwick will have on the Horsham area particularly the western suburbs of Crawley, north Horsham, the villages of Rusper, Warnham and Slinfold.

GIP, a combined hedge fund, sovereign wealth fund plus others, now own Gatwick along with London City and Edinburgh Airports. The submission by GIP to the Davies Commission includes a map (www.gatwickairport.com/business-community/New-runway/Documents-library/) showing where the 57 Leq contour currently runs.

Neither North Horsham nor Kilnwood Vale are currently within the 57 leq contour. The 57 Leq contour is based on a forecast mix of traffic, probably similar to the mix today dominated by short haul A319 and similar aircraft types accounting for some 90 per cent of the movements.

The contours relate to existing (pre flightpath-trial) take-off patterns where aircraft continue straight on for six miles or so before diverting - and then fan out to their destination routes - www.gatwickairport.com/business-community/corporate-responsibility/airspace-strategy/ADNID-departure-trial.

If the most southerly location of a new runway is the preferred choice by GIP, it will surely affect the houses in the new proposed development north of the A264 and at Kilnwood Vale.

It is not just the alignment of the runway and new flight path patterns, but most critically the mix of traffic. It is in Gatwick’s owners best interest to maximise the number of long haul aircraft as that generates the highest return for them.

The higher the proportion of heavy long haul aircraft types the bigger the 57 Leq contour and the greater the number of the new build houses will be drawn into the maximum permissible noise area.

If a two runway Gatwick were to emulate the aircraft mix at Heathrow today, which is in GIP’s interest and their professed long term intent, then the proportion of short haul movements would reduce to 70 per cent and long haul increase to 30 per cent with a substantial increase in the size of the 57 Leq contour as a result.

According to Land Registry figures to 31 March 2014, there have been no sales of new properties in Kilnwood Vale. Maybe this is just a slow start or the time taken to register sales figures.

But another factor must be the uncertainty about Gatwick Airport. The viability of the North Horsham proposal is heavily dependent upon sales of upmarket high value properties. Being impacted by noise from aircraft, particularly heavy long haul aircraft using a new southern runway at Gatwick, will hardly improve their saleability.

Add in the fact that a new station is a non-starter from lack of train paths on the London Brighton line and severe congestion on existing Arun valley services (thus denying the site the claimed access advantages for both business and residents) and the whole scheme looks even more dubious.

These are all facts that HDC should have considered but this politically and developer led project was only interested in evidence that supported its flawed plan.

Dr GEOFFREY RICHARDSON

Tennyson Close, Horsham