LETTER: Vital issue at next general election

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Councillor Kitchen, newly elected to West Sussex County Council (WSCC), has made clear her opposition to the provision of a second runway at Gatwick (WSCT 31 Oct), a position that is contrary to that of the majority of county councillors who voted in support of a second runway.

That county councillors should decide in favour of a huge increase in the airport’s capacity was surprising given that the second runway was not presented as an issue at the county council elections. This collective decision made post-election without proper consultation is therefore arbitrary - and undemocratic.

Although councillor Kitchen has declared her view on the second runway, the great majority of her fellow district councillors, with the exception of councillor Burgess who openly supports a second runway, have not.

Logically those district councillors who like councillor Kitchen have expressed opposition to 2,500 houses north of Horsham ought also to be opposed to a second runway – but have apparently given no indication that they are opposed – even though it would result in massive and unprecedented development on countryside in their wards – including, according to one councillor, 10,000 instead of 2,500 new houses ‘north of Horsham’.

Horsham’s MP Francis Maude in his ‘MP’s Comment’ (WSCT 31 Oct 13) states that the reasons for opposing an additional runway ‘range from environmental concerns to noise pollution and the need for thousands of new homes and supporting infrastructure if the airport were to become equivalent to or even bigger than Heathrow’. I would add that adverse consequences would not be confined to north of Horsham; communities south of Horsham including Billingshurst, Henfield, Southwater and Storrington would also be impacted upon.

It would be an unforgivable betrayal of trust if Horsham District Council was to emulate WSCC and declare in favour of an additional runway at Gatwick Airport without a detailed impact assessment and a proper consultation with and a mandate from residents. The second runway and its consequences must be an issue at the next election and we will need to know what candidates really stand for on this most vital issue.

Dr R.F. SMITH

Bashurst Copse, Itchingfield