A lot of noise is being made in the local media by those who oppose the second runway at Gatwick, but I believe there is a quieter majority who may not necessarily want a second runway, but fully understand and support the economic arguments that underpin it’s development.
The majority of those who oppose are, understandably, concerned about the direct impact on their homes, land or village of more aircraft flying overhead or of the impact of more traffic and employment on the region.
However, a single runway Gatwick will continue to grow as demand for air travel increases and so we would see more aircraft funnelled onto the runway.
Those aircraft would be smaller with less passengers per movement as, without a second runway, the airlines serving Gatwick will be predominantly short and medium-haul low cost or charter carriers.
Looking at the new jobs that could be created (17,500 aviation-related jobs by 2050 with the potential for a further 17,500 in non-aviation).
These could be filled quite easily by either local unemployed or by those who currently commute out of the region. Figures from summer 2013 show that there were just under 30,000 unemployed people in Sussex and Surrey while around 100,000 people commute out of the immediate region to jobs in London or across the south east. These people already live here (which makes a nonsense of the claim of 40,000 new houses) and it would make sense for them to have the opportunity to work locally – that opportunity would come from the second runway.
Just as campaign groups, Facebook pages and petitions are popping up to protest against the runway, so there are groups being established to support it.
For businesses there is the www.ISupportGatwickExpansion.com website while there is at least one Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/GatwickRunway2) that is attracting strong local support.
We are halfway through the airport’s consultation period with around 2,200 people (from the 175,000 invited) having attended six exhibitions with ten more to be held.
Let’s hope that all views are fully and fairly expressed through the process.