01 October 2013

Thousands of businesses located around Gatwick Airport have voiced their support for plans to expand Britain’s second busiest airport.

Rosemary French, executive director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, has written to Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, on behalf of 100 individual businesses and 12 business membership organisations, representing 5,500 businesses and neighbouring areas, backing the Gatwick Airport submission.

The proposal argues the South East will be best served in the future by all three airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) having two runways. Other submissions to the commission include a new runway at Heathrow and three possible replacement hubs – an artificial island in the Thames Estuary, a major expansion at Stansted, or an airport at the Isle of Grain in Kent. The latter proposal is being championed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Rosemary said: “Expansion at Gatwick with a second runway alongside the maintenance of Heathrow as a two-runway airport is the best next step in aviation provision for London and the South East because it is the most cost effective of all the options, does not use public money and the environmental implications are smaller.

“It will also result in considerable job creation, the airport is already the best connected to London, the South East and the rest of the UK by rail and road and the second runway can be built quickly.”

The Gatwick Diamond economy that has grown around a 20-mile perimeter of Gatwick Airport is currently made up 38,000 businesses which contribute £19bn GVA and has an economically active population of 406,000.  Due to the proximity of Gatwick and the excellent London, UK and international connectivity, the area has attracted around 500 internationally-owned businesses many of them global brands with UK or European headquarters, such as Nestle, Canon, ExxonMobil, Toyota, Siemens, Sony, and Novartis.

Arguing the case for expansion at Gatwick, Rosemary continued: “The costs indicated by Gatwick Airport, including its contribution towards improving local transport infrastructure, are in the range £5bn to £9bn – significantly more affordable than Heathrow’s £14-18bn and the Mayor of London’s £50-80bn.

“Both the Heathrow and the Mayor of London proposals are seeking substantial public subsidy, whereas Gatwick expects to finance expansion privately. Further public sector expenditure on big projects will need to be recouped and will only add to the financial burden that businesses already suffer.”

As for the environmental implications, Rosemary said: “We believe that the environmental blight that a third runway at Heathrow will bring to London communities is wholly unnecessary when a second runway could be built at Gatwick with far less environmental, noise and air pollution impact.

“Gatwick already handles 9,233 passengers for every person affected by noise compared to 261 passengers handled by Heathrow, according to the Airports Commission’s own report. “That means that Heathrow is already 35.3 times noisier than Gatwick.  The overall number of people affected by noise with a second runway at Gatwick will still be equivalent to only 5 per cent of the people that Heathrow impacts today, never mind how many will be affected in the future if Heathrow is expanded.   

“The Gatwick Airport submission is also the least destructive of the existing airports, with the demolition of just 100 homes and 120 businesses, compared with as many as 2,700 at Heathrow and 1,000 at Stansted. It is also less destructive than the Isle of Grain proposal, which would require the demolition of 2,000 homes.”

The Gatwick Airport submission states 19,000 jobs will be created as a result of a second runway but the Gatwick Diamond Initiative’s research suggests the impact of expansion could mean as many as 40,000 jobs could be created by 2030.

Gatwick Diamond businesses also argue that the airport is the best connected airport in the UK with the fastest rail route to London.  Rosemary added: “Gatwick has a main railway line running through it that connects directly to London Bridge, St Pancras International and Victoria, as well as south to Brighton and the coast.

“In total, 120 railway stations can be directly reached from the airport, compared to six from Heathrow and 35 from Stansted and once Thameslink is completed, Gatwick will offer one-change services, via Peterborough, to the north.

“An expanded Gatwick Airport would be a catalyst to bring further improvements to the area with faster, more efficient public transport and surface access infrastructure, enabling employees to be attracted from neighbouring communities in London, Kent, West Surrey and East Sussex. Such transport infrastructure investment would cost considerably less than the Thames Estuary proposals.”

More information about the airport expansion proposals may be found at:

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