Gatwick Airport never gives up - it has just revealed its plans to expand - more planes, more pollution, more congestion, more noise - and of course, more profits for them at local people's cost.
Gatwick Airport lost its bid to add a new runway in the government's review. But it has continued to increase flights, noise and pollution - local communities suffer more and more while Gatwick's owners rake in the cash. Now Gatwick has issued its Master Plan, revealing that it still intends to expand massively, despite solid evidence that Gatwick is in the wrong place for a mass transit hub. The local economy has full employment so does not need more jobs, few local businesses benefit from more flights - most suffer because of increased congestion and higher employment costs, and local communities are subjected to appalling noise and air pollution, quite apart from the wider impact on the environment.
Local campaign group GON (Gatwick Obviously Not) has written a really clear guide to answering the consultation. We've pasted it in below so you can use it.
Here is the link to the plan overview: plan overview
Here's where to respond to the consultation online: consultation response
Or email your response to the consultation to: gatwickdraftmasterplan@ipsos-mori-com
QUESTION 1: To what extent, if at all, do you support or oppose the principle of growing Gatwick by making best use of the existing runways in line with Government policy?
QUESTION 2: Please explain why you hold this view.
The growth proposals in the master plan would further enrich the airport's shareholders whilst inflicting more flights, more noise, more emissions and more public transport congestion and over-crowding on local people and those under flight paths.
Any growth at Gatwick should be matched by a directly proportionate reduction in noise, emissions and other local impacts. Gatwick's draft master plan contains no new proposals for reducing these impacts on local people or on communities under flight paths. In our view, therefore, Gatwick's proposals are not consistent with the basic principles of fairness and balance that underpin government policy or with the specific policy requirement that environmental issues and mitigations should be taken into account in airport growth proposals.
The nature and scale of required reductions in noise, emissions and other local impacts should be agreed in parallel with any formal growth proposals and growth should be conditional on achieving those reductions. In each case the metrics to be used should be agreed with local community representatives and their achievement should be measured and certified independently. Required noise reductions should take account of the fact that the airport's noise footprint has increased in four of the past five years, in contravention of government policy. Required emissions reductions should address the fact that the government already expects aviation's greenhouse gas emissions to increase from 7% of total UK emissions now to 25% by 2050. Expansion at Gatwick and elsewhere will make the position worse but the draft master plan contains no credible plans to address this situation.
The question, and the context in which it is asked, are designed to be misleading. It is intended to give the impression that growth at Gatwick on the basis proposed in the master plan would in fact be consistent with government policy. For the reasons set out above we do not believe that is the case. This cynical approach to consultation is inappropriate and inconsistent with good practice. It suggests that Gatwick's master plan consultation is designed to be a PR exercise rather than a serious attempt to gather and assess local views.
QUESTION 3: Given the draft master plan looks out beyond 2030, to what extent, if at all, do you agree or disagree that land that has been safeguarded since 2006 should continue to be safeguarded for the future construction of an additional main runway?
QUESTION 4: Please explain why you hold this view
We strongly oppose the use of this land for an additional runway. Following the government's decision to support a third runway at Heathrow there are many reasons why no further runways should be constructed in the UK and specifically why Gatwick would not be an appropriate location for an additional runway. Given Government policy does not currently support an additional runway at Gatwick, currently safeguarded land should be made available for other more economically and environmentally advantageous purposes.
Continued safeguarding of the land to build an additional main runway leaves a threat of future expansion hanging over the heads of local residents and blights a large area.
It also precludes consideration of how that land could be best used for the benefit of local people.
QUESTION 5: What more, if anything, do you believe should be done to maximise the employment and economic benefits resulting from Gatwick's continued growth?
The local area does not need yet further Gatwick expansion in order to thrive. Even more dependence on the airport reduces resilience in the event of an economic downturn. There is a range of other sectors that could generate similar economic benefits to the regional economy. Local Government, working with local communities, must be more imaginative in the creation of a more diverse economy that supports the Government's Clean Growth Strategy. This includes considering how safeguarded land could be better utilised to meet the needs of local communities.
QUESTION 6: What more, if anything, do you think should be done to minimise the noise impacts of Gatwick's continued growth?
Any further growth of Gatwick must be conditional on directly proportionate reductions in noise, measured on a basis to be agreed with local community representatives. A regulatory regime should be established to ensure this principle is adhered to at all times and that any "excess" growth is promptly reversed until proportionate noise reductions are agreed. Measures of noise impact must take full account of the frequency of aircraft noise as well as average noise levels.
The measures to be taken to achieve proportionate noise reductions should be for Gatwick airport to propose in consultation with local community representatives. They must include an ongoing commitment to dispersal of arriving and departing aircraft on a fair and equitable basis to be agreed with local community representatives and accelerated fleet replacement.
QUESTION 7: What more, if anything, do you think should be done to minimise the other environmental impacts of Gatwick's continued growth?
Any further growth of Gatwick should only be conditional on drastic measures to reduce the environmental damage that its activities cause. We believe these should include:
QUESTION 8: Do you believe our approach to community engagement, as described in the draft master plan, should be improved, and if so, how?
Gatwick's approach to community engagement is based on two principles:
The airport's approach to engagement should instead focus on enforceable, directly proportionate noise and other impact reductions as pre-conditions of any growth. It should also agree to full compensation for all people whom its activities adversely impact, including for diminution in value of properties.
QUESTION 9: If you make use of Gatwick, what areas of the passenger experience would you like to see improved?
QUESTION 10: Are there any aspects of our Surface Access Strategy that you believe should be improved and, if so, what are they?
Gatwick's surface access is wholly incompatible with expansion of the airport. The airport is the wrong side of London and is handicapped by an overburdened rail connection north/south and a totally inadequate rail connection east/west. It is only accessible by one motorway that reaches neither the Capital nor the coast. As a result the airport's operations already cause severe road and rail congestion and overcrowding for local people. Any further growth of the airport should be conditional on (a) reductions in the number of people accessing the airport by road and (b) reductions in public transport congestion. The airport should fund all improvements required to meet these conditions.
QUESTION 11: Do you have any other comments to make about the Gatwick Airport draft master plan?
Gatwick's draft master plan is a manifesto for corporate greed, environmental irresponsibility and local destruction.
The master plan makes no attempt to balance the interests of the airport with those of local communities impacted by its operations. The growth proposals in the master plan would further enrich the airport's shareholders whilst inflicting more flights, more noise, more emissions and more public transport congestion and over-crowding on local people and those under flight paths.
We reject the one-sided, industry-takes-all, approach set out in the master plan. We propose instead that the airport and local councils and community groups should agree arrangements under which growth is permitted only where it is matched by directly proportionate reductions in noise and other environmental impacts and where full compensation is paid to any person who suffers additional noise as a result of any permitted growth.
Our MP, Nus Ghani, is Minister for HS2, the high speed rail link to the north of England. Its route runs through Whitmore Wood in Staffordshire and will destroy over 6 hectares of ancient woodland.
The Woodland Trust is campaigning for a tunnel to avoid this desecration, but although a tunnel would cost a fraction of the overall cost of HS2, the Select Committee has rejected it. They're prioritisng commercial interests over the environment yet again.
As Nus Ghani's constituents, we're in a great position to petition her to stop this appalling vandalism.
Please sign the Woodland Trust's petition here AND write to Nus Ghani.
Despite HS2 coming nowhere near the Wealden constituency our MP, Nus Ghani, is the HS2 minister! As the MP for an area that benefits from so much important natural habitat, we might hope that she will be a champion of environmental protection in her ministerial role. Now is her chance...
The Green Party has consistently highlighted the folly of spending more than £50B on one railway line, when there are so many other infrastructure projects that would provide greater benefit to more of the UK. Also, an enormous amount of environmental damage will be caused during HS2's construction, in particular to the numerous Ancient Woodlands along the route.
The Woodland Trust is currently calling on Nus to use her influence as HS2 minister to ensure a tunnel is constructed in Staffordshire to protect 6 hectares of woodland at Whitmore Wood and Barhill Wood. The cost of the tunnel is just 0.2% of the cost of the whole HS2 project, but the HS2 select parliamentary committee rejected the request to tell HS2 Ltd. that the tunnel must be built.
In total, 98 ancient woods are threatened by the scheme.
On January 16 the Parish Council was shocked to learn from County Councillor Francis Whetstone that East Sussex County Council plans to close Forest Row’s recycling facility.
Tony Lewin, Green Party Parish Councillor leapt into action with other members of the community. Together we’ve started a campaign to show the County Council the importance of the site to people in Forest Row.
In a week more than 4000 people signed petitions – many of them visitors to the busy waste site on 20 January, where Tony and others met and spoke to them. Every user opposed the closure.
We’re appalled at the Council’s short-sighted decision. It doesn’t even make sense!
Tony Lewin has asked Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP to help. She is writing to the Treasury about the effect of Government cuts on local communities - and we hope she'll include the planned closure of our site in her letter. Tony Lewin and other Wealden Green Party members plan to go with her to deliver the letter on 28 February.
We'll be fighting this closure every step of the way. Recycling is extremely important to all of us, so watch this space!