Gatwick Obviously

e-newsletter No.71

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The 2nd Runway

Can Gatwick really be trusted with a major infrastructure project?

GON was founded around 27 months ago and we have largely held our fire as the expansion question has ebbed and flowed.

Now it feels like the decision could be quite close and we'd like to ask you to tell the Cabinet why Gatwick really isn't suitable.

We have secured email addresses for all the Cabinet. If the PM releases the names of those on the deciding committee in due course, we can narrow the swathe and ask you to concentrate on those individuals. But for now, let's ensure the entire Cabinet is left in absolutely no doubt.

Take a look at our 11 points below. Use them verbatim or put it in your own words.

But just do something.

The keyword here is 'trust'.

Can the Cabinet really trust Gatwick?

As ever, we work from facts and all sources are duly quoted.

Thank you

Martin Barraud
Gatwick Obviously Not

1 - Gatwick's advertising found to be "misleading"

If they can spend £40m on advertising but still get the key numbers of those affected very, very wrong, (320,000 newly/additionally affected re Heathrow should have read 56,500) can we trust any of their sums on infrastructure costs?


* See below for more detail

2 - Financial Transparency - or lack thereof

Sir John Stanley, then MP for Tonbridge & Malling in Kent had these very strong words to say on 18th December 2014 in the House of Commons:

"I consider that Gatwick Airport Ltd has failed - and failed scandalously - to be open and transparent about the financial evaluation of its project…
" …Happily, by contrast_ the Airports Commission has not been silent, and paragraph 3.36 of its paper, 'Gatwick Airport Second Runway: Business Case and Sustainability Assessment', contains a significant one-sentence statement:
'It is likely that Government will need to fund some or all of the surface access requirements'"

Sir John continued in his speech:
"Gatwick Airport Ltd is simply seeking a blank cheque from UK taxpayers"
and concluded, as follows:
"On the grounds that Gatwick Airport Ltd has totally failed to be transparent about its financial evaluation, and has concealed the public expenditure implications of the infrastructure needed for a second runway, its proposal should be rejected by the Airports Commission"


3 - Gatwick cannot be trusted to be a good neighbour in the future.

Indeed Gatwick is a very poor neighbour right now. For just two examples:

i. Night flight fiasco

It has very recently submitted plans to set night flight landing charges at a discount to proposed day charges for 2017/18 for around 99% of flights (they exclude category 3 aircraft and unmodified A320s).
Yes, a discount.
To profit from awakening hundreds of thousands of people.
We find this particular dash for tax-free cash abominable and nothing could demonstrate more clearly Gatwick's real view of its neighbours.

Compare this with Heathrow: -

"Heathrow will also obey a ban on night flights between 11pm and 5.30am and agree to rule out building a fourth runway."

ii. Gatwick prefers to prevent respite!

"The promoter of the Gatwick scheme proposes that both runways should be operated in mixed-mode at the expanded airport, preventing the provision of respite through runway alternation, as would be delivered under both Heathrow schemes to some degree."
Source: Airports Commission Final Report, 9.27

4 - Very damaging changes to flight paths

"…the impression may be that something has changed, although I can assure you nothing has…"
Source: Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate to Charles Hendry MP, 18th July 2014


"There has not been any trial of a 'Superhighway' on our westerly approaches and we are not planning any trials."
Source: Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate to a local Penshurst resident, 28th August 2014

Yet complaints went from 3,270 in 2013 to 25,440 in 2014
Source: Gatwick Airport Annual Report 2014

Tens of thousands of people couldn't be wrong - and indeed they were not. In a humiliating rejoinder to Gatwick, the CAA finally admitted on 5th December 2014 that the following had indeed taken place:

"The air traffic controllers tried out revised vectoring practices between the hold and landing at Gatwick … Air traffic controllers were trialling, or trying out, some new vectoring choices to see what effect they would have"
Source: Andrew Haines, CAA CEO to Cllr Richard Streatfeild MBE, Chair, High Weald Group

5 - Judicial Review and the legal challenges ahead

Following the revelation from the CEO of the CAA, above, we launched a JR on the basis that a Consultation should have taken place as there had demonstrably been an air space change. At the second time of asking we secured formal Permission to proceed to a Final, Substantive Hearing. Less than 16% of applications reach this stage. ('Barraud v CAA, with Gatwick, DfT, and NATS as Interested Parties in the Defence)'

This was secured by the UK's top aviation QC, John Steel, and subsequently GACC (the senior campaign group) has been advised by the same QC in reference to a possible further Judicial Review of any decision to grant Gatwick further capacity.

6 - All 8 MP's that surround Gatwick oppose its expansion.

They have formed the Gatwick Coordination Group to maximise their collective influence.

7 - Almost total opposition to expansion from every neighbouring Council of every type

This includes both West Sussex and Kent County Councils.

Paul Carter, CBE, KCC's Leader said in late 2014:

"Changes in Gatwick flight paths have prompted Kent County Council to withdraw its support for a second runway at the West Sussex airport. …the new flight paths had made life intolerable for people … What has changed big time is that the National Air Traffic Control have started to implement changes in flight paths …"

8 - Brexit and the lack of Global Reach

According to the Airports Commission, Gatwick "is unlikely to provide as much of the type of capacity which is most urgently required: long-haul destinations in new markets."
Brexit amplifies this issue.
Source: Airports Commission Final Report, page 4

9 - Gatwick pays little or no UK Corporation Tax and is 100% foreign owned.

If given permission to expand, the investment fund controlling Gatwick (NY based Global Investment Partners, with a consortium of co-investors, including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the National Pension Service of Korea) will probably sell the asset sooner rather than later.

Can we really trust these distant owners to truly have the best environmental, noise or indeed economic interests of Gatwick's neighbours at heart? Given the debacle over flight path changes, some are calling them the "unacceptable face of offshore capitalism".

10 - Geographic position, road and rail access

Gatwick is the wrong side of London for the 'Northern Powerhouse'
It is connected to London by the M23, which rapidly becomes a single lane A23 north of the M25 junction. To think of doubling the traffic on this single carriageway into London is simply beyond comprehension, as anyone who has had to drive from Gatwick to Central London will know.
The Gatwick Express train link is under severe pressure even now. How on earth can they expect to double capacity given the extremely limited scope to expand the rail network on that line?

Remember what Sir John Stanley said (above):
"It is likely that Government will need to fund some or all of the surface access requirements"

11 - The Airport Commission v Gatwick

In responding to Gatwick's attacks (i.e. that there were "omissions or superficial analysis in some critical areas") on the Commission Chaired by Howard Davies, he makes very clear that:

"This dossier appears to repeat many points which Gatwick made to the Commission in the course of its work and which, unsurprisingly, were carefully considered.
"They did not alter the Commission's view that Heathrow was the best option. Using colourful language, as Mr Wingate has done, does not turn weak points into strong ones, and does him and his company no credit.


Cabinet email addresses,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

* The ASA Ruling

"Gatwick adverts banned by ASA for 'misleading public'
Misleading adverts produced by Gatwick Airport about the noise from a new Heathrow runway have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Source: BBC -

Gatwick's ad stated:
"320,000 additional people will be affected by noise from a new runway at Heathrow"

The ASA said:
"…for the specific Heathrow scenario selected, while those newly affected was predicted to be 320,700, the number of people newly removed was 264,200 and therefore the net increase of people newly affected was 56,500."

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September 17th 2016

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