Gatwick

This week the Cabinet Sub-Committee which is considering the recommendation of the Airports Commission meets.

But the media have already been briefed that the Government will delay a decision which was originally expected by the end of this year.  The Transport Secretary is expected to make a statement in the Commons next week.

My view remains that a second runway at Gatwick would be very damaging locally - and not just because of more flight noise.

My particular concern is that expansion would add to the already very acute development pressures in the county.  For instance, the Planning Inspector suggested that the housing numbers in Horsham District Council’s Local Plan - which has just been passed - would have to be reviewed.

That would mean that developers like Mayfield, whose proposed new town has been repeatedly turned down, would have a new opportunity to get their way.

As I said in the Commons recently, there are bound to be local objections to any airport expansion.  There are at Heathrow.  Of course they must be listened to.  But in the end these decisions must be taken in the national interest.

And along with fellow West Sussex MPs who are members of the Gatwick Coordination Group - Sir Nicholas Soames, Henry Smith and Jeremy Quin - I have called for a decision to be made as soon as possible.

We need to stop pretending that the Airports Commission offered ministers options - it didn’t.  The Commission made an unequivocal recommendation for Heathrow.

It said that Gatwick would deliver half the economic benefit, has insufficient transport connections especially to the north, and would fail to provide the hub airport which Britain needs.

Keeping a sub-optimal choice of Gatwick alive just so as to delay an inevitable decision on Heathrow blights local communities, helps no-one and risks reflecting badly on the Government.

Five months have now elapsed since the Commission produced its report.  We can’t credibly talk about a long-term economic plan, or taking decisions in the national interest, if we then run away from the big tests.

The Government set up this Commission.  The recommendation is clear.  It’s time to get on with it.


Document type

Articles

Published

10 December 2015

Back · New Media centre search

"I pledge to work hard for everyone in the constituency, to stand up for local people, and to be a strong voice at Westminster for your concerns"