Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions (CAGNE), an aviation community and environmental group has recently responded to Gatwick’s ‘Master Plan’ to rebuild its emergency runway as a second runway for regular use.
It has produced a survey for local residents to express their feelings about the airport expansion and to ultimately ‘Stop G2’.
Among other causes, the group cites the strain of transport on a road and rail service already operating at capacity, and a lack of amenities, such as housing, healthcare and school places, as reasons for why the expansion should not go ahead.
A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said: “The project proposals are low impact and are in line with Government policy of making best use of existing runways. The project will be delivered in a sustainable way which helps to achieve the Government’s overall goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”
CAGNE criticised this statement, saying: “Deceitful and underhand statements by Gatwick Airport became the norm, along with desperate statements made by the management team when they failed to secure a 2nd runway against Heathrow in 2015. To state ‘low impact’ shows total disregard for communities that suffer Gatwick Airport’s noise now and describe Gatwick as the ‘neighbour from hell’.
“Rusper, West Sussex, as well as other areas in Surrey, Lingfield, close to the runway to the east, will be ‘no-sleep noise ghettos’ due to two runways constantly releasing planes early in the morning to maximise flight numbers, as well as at night. What goes up must come down, so residents who suffer from arrivals can expect to see major increases – so much for ‘low impact’, with the increase from 285,000 flights a year to 382,000.”
The existing emergency runway cannot currently be used at the same time as the main runway, as they are too close together to abide by health and safety restrictions.
CAGNE argues that rebuilding the runway 12 metres further away, as well as building 28 additional taxiways to access the runway is not ‘making best use of current facilities’, as the Gatwick plan suggested.
Furthermore, a spokesperson for the airport gave the fact that Gatwick is solely a leisure airport as grounds to rebuild the new runway, as it had therefore been hit harder by COVID-19 than other airports.
However, CAGNE claimed that work on the runway would only be completed by 2029, as the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project was only likely to be given planning consent by 2024. The Aviation Environment Federation also suggested that the second runway would only be made possible if the Government were to restrict capacity elsewhere in the UK.
Additionally, Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive of Gatwick Airport, claimed that the project would create a further 18,400 jobs in and around the airport, but CAGNE suggests that this figure is far from the truth, as ‘automation has been aviation’s goal’ for some time and aviation jobs have instead been decreasing for several years.
CAGNE also reasons that ‘the South East region has the highest rate of employment in the UK’, meaning that ‘a major increase in job vacancies would inevitably cause further inflationary pressure on employers’.
It also claims that ‘local businesses have to compete with Gatwick Airport when recruiting and retaining staff’ and ‘the level of expansion that Gatwick proposes would dramatically result in an unbalanced economy and bring even heavier reliance on the prosperity of the airport to the region’.
Additionally, the expansion would also increase the airport’s emissions to one million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, adding to the air quality limits that Gatwick has unlawfully breached since 2015. Major flood defences would also have to be built around the new second runway, heavily disrupting local biodiversity.
Gatwick has already been banned from building a second runway in 2015 by a local council planning constraint, a ruling which expired in 2019.