COUNTY NEWS: Congestion charge mooted for motorists travelling to Gatwick Airport

The idea of introducing a congestion charge if a second runway is built at Gatwick has been mooted by West Sussex County Council.

Could a Congestion Charge by introduced for people travelling to Gatwick Airport?
Could a Congestion Charge by introduced for people travelling to Gatwick Airport?

It is one of several possible mitigation measures mentioned in a draft report produced by the authority in response to the Airports Commission’s consultation on air quality.

In the event that a second runway at Gatwick is picked ahead of expansion at Heathrow, the county council has called for action to achieve high public transport access and congestion-free road access.

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However a spokesperson for Gatwick said that should a second runway be given the go-ahead by the Government it has guaranteed that air quality levels will remain within the legal limits in the area close to the airport, something that it believes could be achieved without the introduction of a congestion charge.

But a charge for motorists travelling to the airport is mentioned by the county council as one of the additional mitigation measures that ‘could be implemented’ but has not been specifically highlighted by Gatwick Airport Limited.

The report reads: “It is not clear how effective a congestion charge could be. An assessment on demand management measures in reducing car use at Heathrow Airport was carried out for another module of the Airports Commission’s assessment.

“Whilst the outcome of that assessment cannot be directly transferred to a different airport, the overall conclusions that the imposition of additional charges on car users could have a significant impact on car mode share and overall traffic demand, remain valid.

“Depending on the scale of charge imposed, and the extent of the scheme (that is whether it targets passengers, employees and/or taxis), it is possible that traffic generation with the expanded Gatwick Airport could be reduced to 2013 levels.”

Councillors are due to discuss the proposed response to the Airports Commission on air quality issues at a Full Council meeting on Friday.

Back in January county councillors voted to oppose a second runway at Gatwick, as well as agreeing a response to the Airports Commission’s main consultation.

This reversed the county council’s previous position from 2013, where the majority of members voted to support expansion at Gatwick ‘in principle’ subject to environmental issues.

While the majority of local authorities near to the airport have also voted to oppose a second runway, East Sussex County Council confirmed its support for expansion at Gatwick back in January.

The Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, is expected to make a recommendation to Government on where expansion should take place later this year.

What do you think of the idea of a congestion charge at Gatwick? Comment below.

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