Last week saw the Full Council meetings take place at both Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex County Council. Both Councils discussed and voted on whether to support the draft Gatwick master plan, which sets out Gatwick’s proposals for long-term growth. After the current consultation period, Gatwick Airport will publish a full master plan in 2019, with Government approval required for implementation.
I was opposed to a new fully operational second runway going through our Manor Royal Business District. I never believed the scare stories from those strongly pushing it, claiming that Gatwick would shrivel up and collapse, should the additional runway for the south-east go to Heathrow. Indeed, Gatwick continues to be a major success story this decade with passenger numbers rising from 33 million in 2012 to 45 million in 2018. We have seen new long-haul routes opened and this must continue as we become a more global nation, once the politicians stop prevaricating and allow the 2016 peoples’ vote to leave the EU to be enacted in March next year.
What I like about the draft Gatwick master plan is that it enables future growth and the benefits for Crawley that brings within the existing airport footprint. This has a much less detrimental impact than a full second runway would have. Gatwick has the world’s most efficient single runway operation and advances in technology will enable greater use. Bringing the standby runway into use for departures only would enable further passenger and cargo growth and bring major economic benefits.
I am however opposed to Gatwick’s wish to safeguard land to the south of the airport for any further potential new runways in the future. I also see a need for Crawley and the wider area to benefit from infrastructure investment if Gatwick growth continues. Therefore my position is currently a neutral one until more details come forward next year. Last week, West Sussex County Council voted for a neutral position but Crawley Borough Council voted to oppose growth at Gatwick. I believe that to be a mistake as Gatwick is vital to our local economy and employment.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
19th December 2018