Gatwick slammed for expansion campaign

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Wealden MP Nus Ghani, member of the Gatwick Coordination Group of MPs opposed to a second runway at Gatwick Airport, has criticised Gatwick for continuing to campaign for expansion despite a resounding rejection of their plans by local communities and the Airports Commission.

Ms Ghani said: “Gatwick’s continued attempts to undermine the credibility of the Airports Commission’s work do nothing to improve its poor reputation among local communities and stakeholders. Sir Howard Davies’ letter is a strong and entirely justified rejection of Gatwick’s arguments and the airport would do better to focus on improving its relationship with its neighbours, such as my constituents in Wealden, who are badly affected by night flights and the impact of noise from its operations.”

The chairman of the Airports Commission has written to the Transport Secretary after Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) criticised its report. GAL criticised the commission’s final report which backed Heathrow expansion over Gatwick in July.

Sir Howard branded accusations the commission ‘largely ignored’ Gatwick’s lower noise impacts compared to Heathrow as ‘nonsense.’ Its final report stated: “Although an expanded Gatwick would see more people affected by noise than today, its overall noise impacts would still be much less significant than those around Heathrow.”

Sir Howard said the commission ‘strongly believes’ arguments behind recommendations in its final report were stronger than GAL’s criticisms. The Government will decide which airport to expand.

The letter stated: “GAL’s criticisms fall into seven broad categories with which this letter deals in turn. The majority of the points made by GAL in the media were in reality also made to the Commission in the course of its work and we considered them carefully before we reached our conclusions. I thought it may be helpful to provide an overview of this and to explain why we believe strongly that our work is robust to these criticisms.”

Sir Howard said arguments were about traffic forecasts, regional connectivity, economic benefits, costs and charges, deliverability and financing, air quality and noise.

The letter cited the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and an academic backing the commission’s traffic forecasting method over GAL’s. The commission ‘strongly disagreed’ with GAL’s claims passenger growth at the airports forecasts were wrong.

It refuted GAL’s legal arguments over Heathrow’s air quality issues stating: “Our analysis demonstrates that impacts of Heathrow’s expansion would be a manageable part of this broader issue, which we believe the Government can feasibly devise and implement appropriate measures to address.”

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