New evidence on Gatwick cannot be ignored, says councils

Release Date: 26 October 2017

Councils opposed to Heathrow expansion have welcomed new evidence which confirms that an extra runway at Gatwick provides greater economic benefits and less damage to health and the environment.

The Government has been forced to consult for a second time on its proposed National Policy Statement (NPS) for airports following complaints from the councils that the original consultation had withheld important new information including the UK Air Quality Plan and new aviation demand forecasts.

In the new consultation package it is conceded, for the first time, that over the full 60-year period of the calculation the benefits from a second Gatwick runway would exceed benefits from Heathrow.  Despite this the government argues that Heathrow could deliver economic benefits more quickly, but given there is no evidence that it can ever meet air quality limits these benefits would never be achieved.

Richmond Council, along with Wandsworth, Hillingdon, Windsor and Maidenhead councils, have campaigned for many years against the expansion of the airport. Cllr Paul Hodgins, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“This consultation shows that the Government’s case for Heathrow is slowly fading. Their vision is at best short term.  And when you look at the detail – the case for Gatwick is only getting stronger. When will the Government listen?

“An expanded Heathrow will be expensive, polluting, will take longer to build, require more public money, and destroy more homes.

“The Government repeatedly chooses to ignore the facts that are plain for the rest of us to see - that an expanded Heathrow would come at too high a price - compromising public investment elsewhere. There are increasing safety risks, the expansion would break the law on air quality and pollution and it would have a disastrous impact on people's health and wellbeing. It is simply not worth it.

“We can only hope that when the Secretary of State reviews the clear facts about expanding Heathrow – he will see that it isn’t deliverable and will look to the only real option – Gatwick.”

 The Government’s revised consultation document also reports that more than 80 per cent of responses to the first consultation had been prompted by organisations supporting Heathrow expansion. Of 72,239 responses 58,277 were identified as using an organised campaign response. These were from two groups – Back Heathrow and Your Heathrow.

The eight-week consultation ends on 19 December.

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Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Elinor Firth on 020 8487 5159. 

Reference: P499/17

Updated: 3 June 2019