If you’d asked me a year ago what I would be doing with just a week till Christmas I would not have expected to be giving evidence to the Airport Commission in Crawley nor being taken up the air traffic control tower at Swanwick by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Life has changed this year, many Mums and Dads have been forced by Gatwick Airport to have a crash course in aviation.
The Airport Commission have been asked to find a new runway in the southeast, the wrong question in my book, and the off shore owners of Gatwick are keen that they should be the chosen one.
They are spending millions on trying to convince MPs, the residents of Heathrow, Wandsworth, Croydon of this fact, and now the CEO of Gatwick has sent out a very inadequate letter which lacks so much information, you could be fooled into thinking what is planned is insignificant!
The problem is that residents simply do not trust Gatwick after a year of increases in aircraft noise, poor exhibitions and a lack of engagement by Gatwick executives with those communities affected.
CAGNE was formed earlier this year due to a new flight path that blighted many parishes; the route now proposed by Gatwick Airport as one of the new departure routes off a new runway over the Horsham area whilst all the existing routes will take double the traffic as Gatwick want 560,000 aircraft a year in the skies above our homes.
And just as the Airport Commission arrives in Crawley to take evidence, Mr Wingate, CEO of Gatwick, offers an invite to protest groups to meet concerning aircraft noise.
I took to the stand on Tuesday with the Airport Commission and Gatwick’s executives behind me hoping what I said might make a difference and that the Commission might, at last, see Gatwick’s plans for what they are, a one-way-street, benefits for Gatwick only.
I told the Commission that rural life would go for us if Gatwick expands, as this might be business for Gatwick but it is about communities for us
Aircraft noise is a major issue for the residents of the Horsham areas as the new runway will be half a mile nearer and will have two new flight paths going over areas not previously affected by aircraft noise. I told the Commission that our areas are valued on tranquility, the surrounding countryside and quality of life, we do not benefit from inflated London prices that are not affected by aircraft noise.
The Airport Commission say that 90,000 low skilled workers will be needed but there is very little unemployment in this area, over 6,000 vacancies at present in a 10 mile radius to Gatwick.
Where will they live as one in five employees of Heathrow live next to the airport, so with a 5,000 shortfall every year in Gatwick’s six neighbouring counties and 20,000 on the housing waiting list in West Sussex, this spells mass housing, huge pressure on schools and hospitals for our region.
I asked the Airport Commission how could one road and railway line in and out of Gatwick deal with 96 million passengers and workers? It is anticipated that 136,000 extra road journeys will be made on our roads each day and there will be over 90,000 extra rail travellers in the vicinity to Gatwick, not good news for local people that use the local roads and rail to go about their daily life.
To give you a better understanding of cost, £10m will pay for the widening of one mile of motorway, so how much will it truly cost the public purse and local authorities to build the infrastructure to support an airport that aims to be bigger than Heathrow?
With 286 businesses removed to make way for a new runway, will businesses really want to relocate to an area that suffers overcrowding, congestion, poor rail links to the rest of the country, high pollution levels, lack of affordable housing, social problems, the list could go on if Gatwick expands.
Residents need to participate in the Airport Commission consultation by Tuesday 3rd February and details can be found at www.cagne.org, www.gacc.org.uk or www.gov.uk/airports-commission
Happy Christmas and make it a Happy New Year for the county by saying no to a second runway at Gatwick through the Airport Commission consultation.