Campaigners accused of being selective with Gatwick second runway research

Latest advice.
Latest advice.

The county council has accused a campaign group of being selective with the facts over the benefits second runway at Gatwick Airport.

Last week the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign claimed that if a new runway were built a new town the size of Crawley, or 45,000 new homes, would be needed according to a study jointly commissioned by West Sussex County Council and the Gatwick Diamond Initiative.

However, WSCC has said that the GACC was selective with its use of the research and ignored the potential benefit to the local economy the extra jobs could bring.

A spokesperson for WSCC said: “We would stress again that the support is in principle based on the potential benefits to the economy of West Sussex, business growth and jobs.

“We want to encourage a full debate, and accept there are environmental concerns.”

Back in July the county council voted in principle to support a second runway.

A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said its initial forecasts for expansion showed a new runway could deliver up to 19,000 new jobs through to 2050.

“We appreciate and understand that housing is an important issue locally and during the next phase of our work we will work closely, and in collaboration with the local authorities to understand whether those additional jobs will have any impact on existing housing plans for the region,” the spokesperson added.

GACC said the study, carried out by Berkeley Hanover Consulting, predicts that the number of jobs created by a new runway plus the number of jobs created in firms attracted to the area by doubling the size of Gatwick would be far in excess of any available labour.

Local authorities would then need to decide whether to add hundreds of homes to existing villages or to build a new town in the area, according to the GACC.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of the GACC, said the study would lead to widespread urbanisation, pressure on schools and hospitals, and the loss of wide stretches of countryside.

Mr Sewill added: “The Gatwick Diamond businessmen, who have been lobbying so hard to promote a new runway, also have some explaining to do.

“They sponsored this study so they can’t now disown it.

“Yet it shows that their dream of making Gatwick bigger than Heathrow could turn into a nightmare.”

Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, said he endorsed GDI’s research.

He added: “The key question is what happens to the region should a runway be built elsewhere and we see that between 6,000-10,000 jobs could be lost from the area. Gatwick will still grow but the passenger type will be short-haul, low-cost and leisure travellers who bring little to the local economy.

“Furthermore, there will be little or no interest in any infrastructure development without runway investment and so our road and rail network will become more congested.

“There is no question that housing will be an issue but to expect that 40,000 new jobs will require 45,000 houses is a nonsense. There will be opportunities for in-commuting from other regions through enhanced public transport networks. Furthermore, the jobs and economic growth will drive development in education & health care provision.

“Those who oppose must answer the question as to where our future economic growth will come from? Their children and grandchildren need economic certainty and a second runway at Gatwick will, in my view, bring that.”