Airports Commission Consultation Response
Penshurst Parish Council records its response to the Airport Commission’s Consultation on the three options for an additional runway in the South East below. We would also register the fact that we support fully the joint response forwarded by the High Weald Council Aviation Action Group of which Penshurst Parish Council is a member.
We consider that
Ø The proposal for a second runway at Gatwick Airport is environmentally unacceptable
Ø Gatwick Airport have failed to discharge their fundamental responsibility to provide a transparent financial evaluation of their scheme
Ø Gatwick Airport Ltd expect taxpayers to meet the costs involved in some, or all, of the surface access requirements of a second runway
Ø The strategic position of Gatwick Airport is a far inferior location to Heathrow to provide a hub airport.
It is considered that the four points raised above alone make the case against a second runway at Gatwick overwhelming.
We would expand on the above points as follows:
Ø The environmental impact on the South East generally and Kent in particular would be unacceptable, residents in the western area of Kent already experience intolerable levels of noise disturbance from Gatwick aircraft up to twenty four hours a day. Gatwick Airport Ltd’s Financial Model – Traffic Projections indicate that with a second runway the number of passengers would triple from 30 – 90 million by 2050. Taking into consideration the problems experienced currently the increased impact would be totally unacceptable. The eastern flight path area is not only an area of environmental quality and designation, it includes major national tourist attractions such as Hever and Chiddingstone Castles and Penshurst Place, the appeal of which would be severely reduced for tourists by the significantly increased noise disturbance from Gatwick aircraft if a second runway is constructed.
Ø Gatwick Airport Ltd’s financial evaluation of their scheme, including aeronautical yield, financing, profit and loss, balance sheet, cash-flow statement, tax paid and rate of return together with the full range of assumptions on which these figures have been based have been withheld from public exposure and scrutiny. In view of the major infrastructure project which this proposal will generate and its subsequent adverse affect on very large numbers of people both environmentally and financially it must not be allowed to proceed without the fundamental requirement of public transparency and accountability being fulfilled which it has most certainly not done so far.
Ø Gatwick Airport Ltd has also failed to be transparent by failing to disclose the real cost of the surface access infrastructure works required to accommodate an additional 60 million passengers a year. The Airports Commission must be commended for exposing this fundamental flaw in Gatwick Airport Ltd’s proposal having recorded their opinion that it was likely the Government would need to fund some, or all, or the surface access requirements. Gatwick Airport Ltd are effectively basing their proposal on obtaining the equivalent of a blank cheque from the UK taxpayers to meet the costs for the surface access requirement for a second runway which is totally unacceptable.
The provision of other infrastructure additions which will be required for the extra employment to support this
proposal could be far more easily absorbed by the area surrounding Heathrow and would not require the new
building to the extent envisaged at Gatwick.
Ø As stated, Gatwick is an evidently inferior location compared to either of the Heathrow options in relation to fulfilling the Government’s remit to the Airports Commission’s Consultation Document ie to ‘maintain the UK’s status as Europe’s most important aviation hub’. It must be noted that 70% of the population of England and Wales would be within a two hour rail journey of Heathrow whilst only 35% would have access to Gatwick.
For the reasons above, together with those contained in the detailed response provided by the High Weald Council Aviation Action Group, we would ask that the Airports Commission reject Gatwick Airport Ltd’s Second Runway proposal.