David Moore: should we support or object to a second runway?

When I’m forced to catch a plane, I always breathe a sigh of relief when my flight departs from and arrives at Gatwick Airport.

Horsham Society
Horsham Society

Equally, I go into a state of depression when I’m told that I have to fly from Heathrow and I’m sure many people feel the same.

At the same time, we’re also likely to complain about the proximity of Gatwick Airport, especially the closer we live to the airport.

We’ll be concerned about aircraft noise, possible pollution issues and the density of the traffic going by road to and from the airfield.

Mind you, the counter argument to these concerns will be considerations about the amount of business the airport brings to the area and the number of jobs that are created by its existence.

At the end of the day, a compromise has to be reached if we want to have the perceived benefits of Gatwick without the associated downsides.

All the current forecasts suggest that there’s going to be a huge increase in air traffic flying into and out of the United Kingdom over the next 20 years.

It’s not a question of if new runways will need to be built; it’s more a question of when and where. The Airports Commission has recently announced that Heathrow and Gatwick are currently seen as the prime contenders to get another runway.

West Sussex County Council has already expressed its support for a second runway at Gatwick and Horsham District Council can also see the benefits of this to the local economy.

As the construction of a second runway at Gatwick is now under serious consideration, the concerns remain about what it would do to the area in general and Horsham in particular.

The questions that we need to ask will be quite simple but at the same time we know that the answers will be extremely complicated.

Do we want to allow the expansion of Gatwick Airport or would we rather additional capacity was built elsewhere in the country?

Do we want to create additional jobs as a result of airport expansion in our area or do we want those jobs to be created elsewhere?

Can our infrastructure, such as our road network, cope with the additional traffic that would arise as a result of such an expansion?

Do we need to reconsider the current proposals about where we build new homes to take account of the possibility of a second runway at Gatwick? In this respect, the primary question that has to be addressed is where does the possibility of a second runway at Gatwick Airport leave a north of Horsham development?

Common sense would suggest that whatever the rights and wrongs of any proposed development, it should be put on the back burner for consideration at some future time.

It would be irresponsible to ignore significant changes that might occur in the foreseeable future.

There are no easy answers and it’s going to take a lot of soul searching to decide on the best way forward.

We need to start to consider the options and the consequences so that we can make an informed decision about the pros and cons of a second runway at Gatwick during 2014 / 2015.

What do you think? Let’s start the discussion now.

The Horsham Society is concerned about the past, present and future of the town.

It seeks to promote good planning and design for the built environment and open spaces.

Membership of the Horsham Society is open to anyone, who shares these concerns.

For more information, visit our website www.horshamsociety.org or telephone 01403 261640.