Gatwick update: response to Airports Commission consultation

gatwick-plane-542Here is the text of the response that I have submitted to the Airports Commission consultation on future air capacity for the South East:

Dear Sirs,

As the Member of Parliament for East Surrey, I wish to make a submission to raise concerns on behalf of my constituents over the potential expansion of Gatwick Airport.

My particular concerns relate to the impact that the airport’s proposal to triple the number of passengers would have for my constituents in terms of local infrastructure and the environment. These can broadly be grouped into the below areas which I believe have been inadequately addressed by Gatwick.

Jobs – Using a realistic estimate, it is expected that a second runway at Gatwick would create around 60,000 new on-airport and indirect jobs in the local area. Locally, we are fortunate to enjoy a strong economy and low unemployment. The new jobs would therefore far exceed the available labour, and it is unclear how this need would be met.

Housing and local services – Consultants commissioned by the West Sussex County Council and the Gatwick Diamond Initiative concluded that the new jobs created by a new runway would create a need for 30,000 – 45,000 new houses – equivalent to a new town the size of Crawley or 1,000 houses across forty villages. Where will these houses be built? How can local health and school infrastructure cope with this demand?

Roads – By 2030, we can expect 60 million passengers to be using local transport to get to and from a two runway Gatwick. This could mean up to 100,000 extra road journeys every day. Even with improvements currently in the pipeline, the M23 will reach capacity by 2030 and exceed it by 2040 – this is without expansion at Gatwick. The reliance on so few routes would mean chaos in the event of normal everyday problems on either route. How would Gatwick mitigate the disruption for local residents travelling to work or school?

Rail – Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) predicts 25.7 million train journeys per year by 2030 – double the number using rail at Heathrow today. That is without even taking account of rail journeys by airport staff and by workers in new firms attracted to the area, nor the ‘million tonnes’ of freight Gatwick claims the rail and road infrastructure might need to accommodate. There is only one rail connection to London, already prone to delays with my constituents struggling to get a seat in the mornings. Planned upgrades to the Brighton main line will only create enough additional capacity to meet around half of new passenger demand created by Gatwick.

Flight Paths – With two runways at Gatwick, air traffic would more than double, from 250,000 to 560,000 air traffic movements a year. It is not clear where these new flight paths would go and what impact this would have for the communities surrounding Gatwick, both in areas currently overflown and those undisturbed by flight noise from the single runway.

I ask kindly that you take the above information into account when considering this important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Gyimah MP