Councillors and members from the South East Green Party met with former Gatwick-based pilot Todd Smith as they launched their campaign against the plans on the eve of the consultation - which went live today (Thursday, September 9).
Airport chiefs believe they have mitigated environmental concerns in the plans to bring the Northern Runway into routine use. They say that new technologies will create quieter engines and this will offset the increased amount of flights created by the plans.
But Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: "“Converting Gatwick’s emergency runway to support even more flights is completely incompatible with the UK’s climate targets. The Government should be looking to ways of driving down aviation demand, not facilitating it.
“More flights at Gatwick will cause more noise, pollution and road congestion and undermine what few efforts there are to put us on the path to net zero emissions.”
Surrey Green Party Councillor Jonathan Essex has calculated that the planned expansion at Gatwick will increase emissions by more than 1.5 million tonnes of carbon a year.
Councillor Essex said: “Converting Gatwick's emergency runway to support even more flights would be a disaster for the climate. The fact that these plans have even been put forward implies that the government just reflects business interests rather than providing leadership on the climate.
“We need a Green New Deal plan to decarbonise every home and journey locally, not a further increase in the noise, pollution, congestion and pressures of Gatwick, whose climate impact already dwarfs that of its surrounding area.”
Todd Smith, 32, former Gatwick-based pilot and co-founder of environmental group Safe Landing, said: "Airport expansion at Gatwick or any other UK airport is in direct conflict with the need for climate leadership and contradicts the advice from the government's independent Climate Change Committee.
"It's about time we had a grown up conversation regarding aviation's role in this emergency and how we can support highly skilled workers’ transition towards the essential low carbon jobs of the future."
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