Open letter in response to Gatwick scare tactics

Last week I wrote to Gatwick to express concern about the above leaflet, and the tactics being employed to scare residents near to Heathrow into supporting Gatwick’s expansion. The letter, written jointly with Crispin Blunt (Conservative PPC for Reigate) and Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative PPC for Spelthorne), followed the discovery of a leaflet distributed by Gatwick to 400,000 homes near Heathrow suggesting ‘Gatwick expansion sounds better.’

As many in East Surrey will know, this is certainly not the case for those living closest to the airport, who have already suffered significant increases in aircraft noise since the introduction of P-RNAV last summer. Gatwick should be focused on mitigating the impact of this policy, not wasting money on expensive leaflet drops to residents near Heathrow. You can read our letter of objection below, and Gatwick’s response here.

 

Sir Roy McNulty, Chairman, Gatwick Airport

Dear Sir Roy,

On behalf of constituents in communities around both Heathrow and Gatwick – residents we hope to continue to represent if re-elected – we are deeply concerned about the scare tactics being deployed by your Chief Executive, on behalf of Gatwick airport, as the debate on airport capacity draws to a conclusion.

The mass mail you have sanctioned, targeting 400,000 leaflets to residents around Heathrow – west London, Surrey and Berkshire – demonstrates an astonishing disregard for the concerns of families and communities around Gatwick, about whom you should have most concern.

It is unacceptable that you continue to ignore your own communities, those who will be most affected by the considerable impact of expansion at Gatwick, and to suggest that ‘Gatwick sounds better’. It doesn’t, and if Mr Wingate or his team had taken the time to adequately consult with his local communities he would know this. You would also know there are wide ranging concerns about the huge strain Gatwick expansion would place on local transport infrastructure, housing, schools and healthcare. Local groups, such as CAGNE and GACC, continue to raise concerns – which have been ignored – about the devastating impact of an expanded Gatwick leaving little local authority or local political support for your plans.

In addition, taking this approach during the election campaign is a blatant attempt to capitalise on outdated views of the political landscape around Heathrow, where expansion is supported by more than 50% of local people polled, precisely because of the employment (40,000 local jobs, 10,000 apprentices) and other benefits that will follow.

Airport expansion, wherever it may be, will require careful and considered planning to ensure that the whole country benefits and that local communities are protected. Your proposals deliver neither.

Instead of spending resources on leafleting households around Heathrow you should be looking after your own neighbours, by concentrating resources on mitigating the impact of P-RNAV and sorting out the altered Gatwick departure flight paths, which are causing an explosion of complaints from residents newly affected by noise.

Instead of frightening the communities around your competitor, you should focus on engaging with the communities that surround your airport.

Yours sincerely,

Kwasi Kwarteng
Conservative candidate for Spelthorne

Sam Gyimah
Conservative candidate for East Surrey

Crispin Blunt
Conservative candidate for Reigate