Gatwick Airport Master Plan

Gatwick Airport is planning some major developments that will increase its present 32 million passengers per year to 40 million by 2020.

You can read about their plans and take part in the consultation about them at this website:  http://gatwickmasterplan.co.uk/  Please note: the consultation closes this Friday, 13 January.

Reigate and Banstead Green Party members Derek Smith and Jonathan Essex went to a consultation workshop on the plans.  Derek Smith reports….

Jonathan Essex and I went to one of the consultation workshops recently.  We were divided into two tables each with a chair, a Gatwick representative, and a secretary.  On my table there were a number of Horley Town Councillors and Cllr Allen Kay from Reigate & Banstead Council.  Luckily Jonathan was on the other table and so we had inputs to both discussions.

Rather than attempt to describe Gatwick’s plans and give a balanced summary of the discussion I took part in, the following summarises the main points I made.

  • Gatwick claims that it generates enormous economic benefits, eg £2 billion per year for London and the South East.  I asked how did this compare with the subsidy that airlines receive through paying no fuel duty.  They did not know of course.  I said that they should find this out and quote it so that people can see the net rather than the gross economic benefit.  They agreed that they should do this (but I’m not holding my breath).
  • On climate change, one of their display posters says “We accept climate change is a reality and Gatwick has a responsibility to play its part in reducing its effects” and “We accept that Gatwick growth will increase our emissions” but “we do not believe this will rise to any direct, measurable or significant effects on local, national or global temperatures”.  I was highly critical of this last statement: the ‘direct’ part is untrue, and the ‘our actions won’t make any significant difference’ argument is discredited.  I said that a major expansion of air travel is quite incompatible with tackling climate change.  Their response was a belief (or hope?) that the airlines will switch to sustainable bio-fuels.  I pointed out this will be at the expense of food supply.
  • They quote highly misleading average rather than actual noise statistics (something I learnt about at a recent Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign meeting).  They say that they agree that better measurements are needed but in the meanwhile they follow industry practice.
  • Gatwick plans to recycle more waste and reduce its untreated waste to landfill.  I suggested that because the airport has many food outlets this looks ideal for an anaerobic digester to process the food waste.  They agreed to look into this.
  • On ‘Beyond 2020’ my contribution was the hope that by 2020 a combination of climate change policies and oil scarcity will have made the aviation industry much smaller.

Respond to the consultation: http://gatwickmasterplan.co.uk/

Find out more: Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign website

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