Gatwick Airport expansion - '˜State of Emergency' declared by pressure group

A '˜Countryside State of Emergency' has been declared following Gatwick Airport's new expansion plan.

The Sussex branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England says it has “taken the unprecedented step” to counter the airport’s plan.

The CPRE in a statement says: “The Master Plan details the airport’s proposal to expand from one to potentially three runways.

“The figures show that a second runway created from Gatwick’s existing emergency runway would result in an estimated 14 million extra passengers travelling through Sussex every year.

Gatwick Airport

“A third runway to the south would add millions more passengers and require ‘significant changes to the airport and surrounding roads’.”

“This plan would have a devastating impact on our countryside,” says CPRE Chair, David Johnson.

“It would change the landscape and rural character of Sussex forever - scaring our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and deeply damaging the tranquillity and ecology of our National Park.

“For this reason we are declaring our first ever ‘Countryside State of Emergency’ to protect what we hold dear – our rural communities and the natural beauty and tranquillity of our county.

“It would be unthinkable to allow Gatwick to urbanise Sussex in this way, so we will be joining with all other community and conservation groups to oppose these plans.”

Gatwick published details of its Master Plan last week when it announced the start of a 12 week consultation process (due to end January 10 2019).

The document predicts that, with a second runway, the airport could be handling between 68 and 70 million passengers by 2032.

“It is ironic that at a time when one Government department is looking to expand the protection of our beloved and treasured countryside another department could be allowing its destruction,” says David Johnson.

The CPRE says that earlier this month the government launched its National Parks Review, pledging to enhance statutory protection for Britain’s National Parks and AONBs to ‘ensure designated landscapes are fit for the future’.

“We do not believe that the destruction of wildlife, our tranquillity, our dark night skies and clean air can be justified by the expansion of Gatwick,” added Mr Johnson.

CPRE Sussex has now written to the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP to detail its emergency campaign to safeguard Sussex’s rural communities, ANOBs and National Park from Gatwick Airport’s Master Plan.

Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate has said the proposed use of the existing standby runway would not increase airport noise and would meet all international safety requirements.

If it progresses the plan, a detailed planning proposal would be submitted.

He said the plans would mean an extra 8,000 jobs being created at Gatwick itself - 20,000 in the region overall - and would add an extra £2 billion to the economy.

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