We will provide analysis and a 'what you need to do' synopsis in due course once we have fully read and understood the report.
For today, here are some initial thoughts from two of the most important and dedicated campaign leaders from CAGNE and CAGNE.East. (Representing areas to the West and East of Gatwick)
The Strategic Team
From Simon Byerley,
Joint founder of CAGNE.East, member of the Gatwick Obviously Not strategic team
The Davis Commission's interim report is out today and we have until 3rd February to respond as residents and organisations as to what will be the single biggest decision facing UK aviation for a generation.
This is not something that should be left to others - this will affect all of us, our airspace, our quality of life, our health, our local economy and the entire transport network that surrounds us.
What seems clear now is that choosing Gatwick is an enormous 'gamble'. By rolling some very expensive PR dice Gatwick hope to provide a quick buck to investors who are not remotely interested in staying on to see the job through. Most of the PR is being spent buttering up Londoners and Parliament who won't be affected - scant engagement is being done with us as communities who will suffer the consequences.
It is an underfunded, unsound, unwanted 'pitch' to the government that has been polished up as the 'Obvious' option. All I can say is that there are some things in life you simply can't polish.
Whilst we should all fight Gatwick growing to be bigger than Heathrow right on our doorstep, we should not forget that we are battling the current situation that is the precursor to a successful 2nd runway bid - that of concentrated flightpaths above us and the astounding situation that we currently find ourselves in - in which the CAA, NATs and Gatwick Airport Ltd. all deny there has been any change of airspace usage, nor that there are currently any 'trials' going on.
11,000 complaints alone in the first 6 months say they are wrong, the historical heat maps say they are wrong - I say they are wrong.
The simple fact is, they've done the arrivals trials and now we are living under the roll out - and we need to fight that as hard as we can. Great, we have the concentrated flight paths delayed after applying some pressure - but it is only a delay.
Easy things you can do:
1. Keep complaining about individual aircraft - lets get the burden shared and the current situation exposed
2. Come to the GACC meeting on 22nd November - not even Willie Walsh wants Gatwick expanded, let's invite him along
Airport Commission report out today - please have a read
Our initial findings are -
Gatwick's 'suck it and see' approach to a low-cost Britain risks leaving the UK dependent on a shed and some new tarmac just off the M23 to compete for international growth, and unknown levels of blight on our local communities for years to come
The Davies Commission's assessment of Gatwick's proposals reveal a huge amount of uncertainty for our local communities and the whole country. They raise a crucial question - what will Gatwick actually deliver?
We'll take our time to go through the consultation documents in detail, but the summary is striking and raises some important questions:
1. Is a 'low cost Britain' really the limit of our ambitions? Is this really the future we want for Britain in the world?
- Gatwick is so uncertain of its ability to grow that its plans may never be fully built. The 'master plan' seems to be - lay the tarmac and see who comes into land. A pre-fabricated 'remote pier' appears to be on the cards, but the rest of their plans depend on unproven demand. The CEO, Stewart Wingate, talks about delivering a 'world class experience' - the Davies Commission's assessment of his approach is that Gatwick will achieve a worse passenger experience than they are able to deliver today - is that really the first impression we want to give to the rest of the world?
- Employment opportunities could be as few as 500 new jobs - that's not much return for £9bn of investment, over 30,000 more people affected by noise than today and some of the most tranquil landscape in the country blighted for future generations, including irreplaceable ancient woodland.
- Benefits for the whole country range from as low as £42bn to £127bn - far lower than any assessment of other options.
- There is no clarity about the type of airport Gatwick wants to be - low cost, long haul or Europe focused - Stewart Wingate at Gatwick is inconstant and seems to be saying whatever suits the audience he's speaking to at any one time.
2. Will they ever be able to raise the money and are they serious about building?
- The Commission raises serious concerns about Gatwick's ability to raise the level of funding required to deliver its plans - Davies Commission: "This level of finance is not unprecedented for infrastructure projects and airports. It is, however, significantly larger than the company's financing to date and may be challenging in a context where there is uncertainty around passenger demand forecasts and where the airport may need to raise its aero charges from £9 per passenger to up to c.£15-£18 or more [up to £23] within a competitive environment."
- Gatwick's costs have increased by over £2bn and we still don't know how much public funding they would require - a KPMG report for the Airports Commission last year said the amount needed would be over £17bn.
3. What's the truth about noise?
- Gatwick will increase noise for over 30,000 people.
- We don't know whether there will be a doubling or trebling of the number of local people affected by noise - whatever the reality, the Commission says Gatwick's plans will have an adverse impact on local communities and will blight some of the most tranquil landscape in the country for generations to come.
4. What's the truth for the environment?
- The highest level of increases in emissions are associated with growth in low cost flights and low cost flights are 'king' according to the report.
- The local landscape will be irrevocably scarred by the loss of ancient woodland.
5. What's the truth for passengers?
Will they face lower or higher fares flying from an expanded Gatwick? What's the impact on the roads and railways?
- Gatwick's landing charges are expected to double to £18 and could be as high as £23, more than current landing charges at Heathrow, the most expensive airport in the world.
- The Davies Commission's assessment is that Gatwick's plans will deliver a worse passenger experience than today.
- The Commission predicts high levels of overcrowding on trains into and out of London to Gatwick - and reliance on the single line south of Croydon which is expected to close as many as eight times a year, even with current planned investment. High levels of overcrowding are also predicted into and out of London Bridge.
- Gatwick's plans are dependent on improvements to road and rail that are not yet funded, and will only cover forecast demand without a new runway.
So many questions unanswered by an airport that states GIP, owners, will sell in 2019.
November 11th 2014
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