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COUNCILS MEET TRANSPORT MINISTER TO URGE: 'NO EXTRA RUNWAYS FOR GATWICK'

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West Sussex CC today led a delegation of local authorities at a meeting with transport minister Tony McNulty. The d...
West Sussex CC today led a delegation of local authorities at a meeting with transport minister Tony McNulty. The delegation was from the West Sussex and Surrey local authorities that surround Gatwick Airport, all of whom oppose any new runways at Gatwick.

Each authority had made this point in individual responses to the SERAS consultation but wanted the opportunity to put the case personally to the minister.

The deputation, led by Tex Pemberton, West Sussex CC cabinet member for highways and transport, wanted the chance to explain why there were such strong feelings against any extra runways.

Speaking outside the Department for Transport offices after the meeting, Mr Pemberton said: 'The minister listened very intently to what we had to say.

'We stressed that the government had been right in its original decision to exclude Gatwick from the consultation.

'I said to Mr McNulty that if there is no new evidence to suggest a change of heart, I firmly believe that it would be illogical for the government to come to any decision other than its original one.'

Mr Pemberton continued: 'The delegation left the minister in no doubt that expanding Gatwick would be an environmental disaster. We all made it clear that a prosperous economic future lies ahead for Gatwick, and we are all working to achieve that.

A 50% growth in passengers is forecast using the present single runway and two terminals. This means excellent inward investment, and many more jobs.

'Two extra runways would mean an airport almost twice, yes twice, the size of Heathrow today, and over 100,000 extra jobs.

'Building new runways would mean swallowing vast tracts of green field and agricultural land near the airport, and blight properties in the area.

'The impact on local communities and traffic would be severe, with a rise in population, meaning extra schools, medical facilities and social and caring services would be needed.

'In the worst case scenario, we cou ld see 27,000 more people mainly in Crawley exposed to serious noise, an extra 7,000 people suffering pollution above the EU limits, the M23 turned into a 10 lane motorway and 100,000 more car parking spaces built on the countryside. That's not a price worth paying.'

Mr Pemberton said that building a runway or runways at Gatwick amounted to the desecration of West Sussex.

'We have all made our case very clearly, and left the minister in no doubt about the intensity of opposition to any more runways at Gatwick,' he said.

'In its original consultation the government said it does not intend to overturn the legal agreement, and concluded that a new runway could not be available until very late in the period of the white paper and would create unnecessary blight and uncertainty.

'When forced by a judicial review to undertake a fresh consultation, the government said again it would do so quickly to minimise uncertainty. Nothing has changed by this further consultation and there is no reason for the government to come to a different conclusion on the future of Gatwick.

'We can only wait and see if Mr McNulty takes to heart what we told him. We will know when the Aviation White Paper is published. I was told by the minister today that it is absolutely on schedule for publication before parliament rises in December.'

NOTES

A legal agreement is in force until 2019 which prevents a second runway being built. The government has said several times it does not wish to overturn that agreement. The councils in today's delegation opposed any development for the lifetime of the white paper up to 2030.

The Gatwick delegation comprised of members and officers from: West Sussex and Surrey CCs, Crawley, Reigate and Banstead BCs, Horsham, Mid-Sussex, Mole Valley and Tandridge DCs.

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