The Airports Commission today announced expanding Heathrow was its preferred option for boosting the UK economy, meeting the need for aviation capacity in the south east and expanding global connectivity, but said expanding Gatwick was a ‘credible’ option.
East Sussex County Council said it would continue to state the case for expanding Gatwick – which it said offered ‘an unmissable opportunity’ for the area’s economy – pending a final decision from Government, expected later this year.
The authority also said it would continue to lobby for measures to reduce the impact of flights on its residents – particularly nuisance caused by aircraft noise.
Cllr Rupert Simmons, county council lead member for economy, said: “While we’re disappointed the commission didn’t select Gatwick as its preferred choice, it did recognise that Gatwick was a credible and deliverable scheme.
“We will await the final decision from Government and would urge ministers to make the decision quickly to provide certainty for the communities which may be affected.
“A second runway at Gatwick can be delivered earlier than a third runway at Heathrow and the Gatwick option will cost less, have less environmental impact and require fewer homes than expanding Heathrow.
“A second runway for Gatwick is an unmissable opportunity to help our businesses to trade globally, attract more visitors and more companies to locate to East Sussex, and create new jobs for residents.
“Our support has always been conditional on proper infrastructure, environmental mitigation and compensation being in place and it’s vital these measures are delivered should the scheme be approved.
“We have lobbied strongly and effectively for measures to reduce the impact of flights into Gatwick on residents, particularly from aircraft noise, and will continue to do so, regardless of the final decision.”
The council, along with others, has already successfully lobbied for carriers easyJet and British Airways to retrofit its older Airbus 320 aircraft to reduce the high-pitched whine which has plagued residents.
The authority is also calling for aircraft to be allowed a steeper ascent and descent, and for flight paths to be rotated to ease the impact of noise on residents.