The local Green Party, like many others, has formally objected to an extra runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow Airport. We pointed out that there has been no assessment of health impacts, there would be a definite increase in noise and that an increase in flights would make it impossible to meet our climate targets.
The Airport Commission’s evidence clearly set out many negative impacts associated with expanding either airport. I was shocked that neither Surrey County Council nor Reigate and Banstead Borough Council opposed doubling the size of Gatwick Airport. Our County Council’s fence-sitting is conditional on more money for expanding road and rail capacity if Gatwick is expanded. Meanwhile, the Borough Council has opted to remain neutral while accepting that the Airport Commission’s analysis that an extra 130 homes/year here would require ‘some’ building on the Green Belt.
Local MPs here argue against expansion in Gatwick while remaining relaxed about expanding Heathrow airport instead. MPs around Heathrow say the opposite. How selfish. Sustaining our quality-of-life is not more important than someone else’s right to a decent life. And how hypocritical for the UK to submit our draft commitment to reduce carbon emissions this month and then consider further aviation expansion after the election next month. Without words being backed up by actions then the world will see a UK posturing, not leading on climate change.
Choosing to expand aviation is part of a short-sighted economic strategy that depends on continually expanding the scale of everything – including inequality – at the expense of our communities and our local and global environment. Instead, we can make better use of what we have already got. This requires us to be better connected to each other – not have better flight connections to China. Bigger is not automatically better. That is why we remain opposed to runway expansion, not just at Gatwick Airport but elsewhere too.