Nik Butler: Gatwick noise protests and the need for better reasons

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

In reading the recent emails from the protest group Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions,, I am left wondering if this is not, in actuality, an argument for renewable energy usage and a policy for sustainability.

Their recent emailed communication highlighted various threats to our Sussex life. House prices would be impacted, air pollution would increase, and people’s hearing would deteriorate. They stopped short of dogs and cats living together levels of apocalypse but the essence was there.

I paid attention to the arguments but in looking into them I find that yet again we see the foundations of an effective protest undermined by rhetoric built on less than valid ideas. House prices are sure to be impacted though if that will be in a negative way is not clear. A quick Google for property sales in Slough, Windsor, and Stanwell Moor show house prices of around £276,000 only £20,000 less than Horsham. However house prices have, on average, risen few percent faster than in Horsham. There is hardly evidence that planes will plummet house prices.

Meanwhile air pollution, a worthy concern, appears to ignore the basic premise that for every aircraft with four engines carrying a few hundred passengers there are tens of thousands of cars driving throughout the day polluting our town, and our country, with fumes and toxic chemicals. In place of the 900 litres of fuel burnt at take off by one aircraft why not highlight the thousands of litres of fuel burnt every day by vehicles on our streets. We need only look to Storrington to see how vehicle emissions are impacting communities. Further; if the argument for renewable energy is that it is inefficient then we should look closely at our transport infrastructure. Finally our eardrums under pressure from engines would be poignant if I could hear them over the earbuds of my MP3 player.

Our society enjoying the luxury of headsets, and personal stereos, has done plenty of damage already; and as I type this I can hear the sounds of motorbikes and cars racing on the carriage way which is a good mile from my home.

I applaud the work and effort of CAGNE and I would hope more will take note of their concerns; if only that among the roaring engines of their protest we find the still quiet voice of some legitimate reasons to argue against a Gatwick expansion.