Councils submit conflicting last-minute responses to Gatwick Airport expansion


Councils are at loggerheads over plans for a new runway at Gatwick Airport, as public consultation on expansion plans comes to a close.

Southwark LBC and Sevenoaks DC have today lodged opposing eleventh hour responses to development of a second runway at Gatwick Airport. The comments came as the Airports Commission this morning finished gathering public responses to three short-listed developments in the southeast, which include developments at Gatwick and either a third runway or extensions to an existing runway at Heathrow.

Sevenoaks DC has announced it opposes expansion at Gatwick, raising concerns about the impact of aircraft noise in the district and potential traffic congestion.

Cllr Robert Piper, Sevenoaks’ cabinet member for planning, said the council was ‘not satisfied that the development of a second runway would be delivered along with a reduction in existing noise impacts’ and lodged further calls for Gatwick to combat existing sound pollution.

Yet the announcement was met by Southwark LBC, which today threw its weight behind Gatwick Airport’s bid for expansion.

Councillors at the London borough said the plans would help make the case for higher capacity on local transport links, support 5,000 people into work and deliver significant economic growth.

Southwark LBC has written to the chief executive of Gatwick Airport, Steve Wingate, to propose a partnership between the airport and council designed to support local economic growth and development opportunities.

Council leader, Cllr Peter John, said: ‘Government policy makes airport expansion inevitable, so we need to make sure now that any expansion offers benefits to our residents and will deliver real jobs and growth to Southwark.

‘I am backing Gatwick’s plans which offer a real opportunity for Southwark and south London. More frequent trains for London Bridge, the opportunity for local people to access thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships and opportunities for businesses to supply the new airport will all benefit local people.’

A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport welcomed Southwark LBC’s support, adding that ‘we look forward to working more closely with Southwark and other London councils to realise these benefits should Gatwick get the green light to expand’.

‘While obviously disappointed at the decision of Sevenoaks DC, we continue to believe that expanding Gatwick will bring a huge boost for the local economy for decades to come, including thousands of jobs, apprenticeships and opportunities for local businesses. We will continue to work closely with the council and do as much as possible to reduce the impact of aircraft noise on local resident,’ the spokesperson added.

Businesses today came out in support of increasing aviation capacity in the UK, with professional services provider KPMG claiming it was the ‘only way’ the country can ‘defend and grow its competitive position’.

KPMG’s global head of aviation, James Stamp, said: ‘The debate about new runways in the UK is not just about where to lay 3,000 metres of concrete; it is a debate that is fundamentally about how we secure our future economic prosperity. Within a decade, over half of global growth will be driven by emerging economies, and we need to make sure we are connected to that growth engine.’

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