West Sussex business leaders continue support for Gatwick second runway

Gatwick Airport 5-1-15 (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150601-100616001
Gatwick Airport 5-1-15 (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150601-100616001

Business leaders in West Sussex are continuing to support a second runway at Gatwick - despite the Davies Commission backing expansion at Heathrow.

Gatwick Diamond Business (GDB) has written to Prime Minister David Cameron arguing that the commission’s report, released at the start of July, contains ‘flaws’ which cast doubt on the deliverability of a new runway at Heathrow.

It has been co-signed by 26 business leaders across the Gatwick Diamond region, including organisations based in Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Chichester, Crawley, Adur, and Worthing.

In the letter they expressed ‘disappointment’ at the commission’s findings, but were pleased to see the Government had committed to fully reviewing the report’s findings and evidence base before deciding whether to accept the recommendation.

It continues: “We will continue to press for you and your Government to ultimately choose Gatwick, as we believe it to be the right choice for the country and for the region.

“We feel that the report from the commission goes a long way to actually supporting that view as it does state that Gatwick is a credible, financeable and deliverable option, and that its review of economic benefits according to Treasury guidelines regards both Heathrow and Gatwick having comparable benefits.

“It is critical to bear in mind the constraints that have been placed on Heathrow, that are likely to be unattainable.”

GDB’s letter argues that there were significant risks to delivering expansion at Heathrow in terms of high environmental impacts and complex infrastructure requirements, and that a second runway could be delivered at Gatwick at a lower cost and risk.

This week Gatwick Airport itself also stepped up its attack of the Davies Commission’s findings, calling them ‘inconsistent and flawed’.

It has released a 50-page document highlighting areas of concern, and claimed that several assumptions fundamentally underplayed traffic through the airport with and without a second runway, and overplayed predictions for Heathrow.

In Sir Howard Davies’ final report he found that the economic benefits of expanding Gatwick were ‘considerably smaller’ than those of expansion at Heathrow, while his conclusions were ‘clear and unanimous’.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer at Gatwick Airport, said: “We expected a well-considered examination of all options, but instead the final report contains so many omissions and basic errors that its reliability as the basis of aviation policy must be called into question. The findings of this report simply do not add up.”

In response Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, said: “Why not shut up and accept defeat.”

Signatories include Peter Liddell, director of Burgess Hill Business Park Association, Louise Hopkins, chairman of Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kirk Brown, chairman of Coastal West Sussex Partnership Board, Paul Roe, president of Crawley and Gatwick Chamber of Commerce, Paul Gresham, chairman of The Gatwick Diamond Initiative, Rosemary Stimpson, chairman of Gatwick Guest House Association, Rhett Vallely, chairman of Gatwick Hotels Association, Maureen Scholefield, chairman of Haywards Heath and District Business Association, and Peter Bennett, chairman of Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce.

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