Business leaders write to the Prime Minister asking him to back Gatwick


Business leaders in Sussex, including the President of the Crowborough & District Chamber of Commerce, have written to the Prime Minister urging him to back a new runway at Gatwick, despite the recent Airports Commission’s decision recommending Heathrow.

Jeremy Woolger, President Crowborough and District Chamber of Commerce
Jeremy Woolger, President Crowborough and District Chamber of Commerce

The letter which also went to the Government Committee evaluating the Airports Commission’s recommendation, was signed by 26 business figures in the region including Jeremy Woolger.  It sets out why they feel Heathrow is the wrong choice and why Gatwick can and should provide the airport capacity needed.

The letter argues there are “flaws” in the Airport Commission’s report:

We will continue to press for you and your Government to ultimately choose Gatwick, as we believe it to be the right choice for the country and for the region.

We feel that the report from the commission goes a long way to actually supporting that view as it does state that Gatwick is a credible, financeable and deliverable option, and that its review of economic benefits according to Treasury guidelines regards both Heathrow and Gatwick having comparable benefits.

It is critical to bear in mind the constraints that have been placed on Heathrow, that are likely to be unattainable.

Members of the Crowborough & District Chamber of Commerce debated the proposed expansion of Gatwick and whether they should support an additional runway at their meeting in January.  Jeremy Woolger said:

The pros and cons of the expansion of Gatwick and the building of the second runway were discussed and a vote on the Chamber’s position was taken.

Members continue to be of the opinion that expansion of Gatwick would have a significant positive impact on the local economy, both directly and indirectly to businesses, and sustained employment opportunities for the growing workforce.

Operational changes outlined by Gatwick representatives at a meeting we attended at the end of 2014 reassured members that any negative impact on the area, either environmental or through noise, would be minimised or potentially improved on the current situation.
 The Chamber supported the Gatwick expansion with three caveats at the request of members:
  1. The expansion at Gatwick must not exacerbate the perceived environmental issues concerning Ashdown Forest which have led to the introduction of the Habitats Directive.
  2. Crowborough should not be seen as an area to locate overspill housing to accommodate any increased workforce.
  3. The infrastructure of Crowborough and the surrounding area must be maintained and/or improved to cope with additional strain.


Ever since changes to flight paths were proposed, noise has been a contention issue in Crowborough and in other towns and villages overflown by flights on their approach to Gatwick.  On the subject of noise, the letter to David Cameron from the business organisations refers to the findings in the Airport Commision’s report which states on page 27:

Although an expanded Gatwick would see more people affected by noise than today, its overall noise impacts would still be much less significant than those around Heathrow.  In terms of the total number of people affected, an expanded Heathrow would see more than 550,000 people within the 24-hour 55 LDEN contour in 2030 compared to just over 22,000 at Gatwick.  That reflects Gatwick’s more rural location, which presents challenges in respect of the airport’s effects on tranquility, but does not outweigh its overall noise advantage.

55 LDEN is a weighted noise level, measured over the 24 hour period, with a 10 dB penalty added to the levels between 23.00 and 07.00 hours and a 5 dB penalty added to the levels between 19.00 and 23.00 hours to reflect people’s extra sensitivity to noise during the night and the evening.

Although recently the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned a Gatwick advert which compared the number of people affected by a new runway being built at Heathrow or Gatwick for being misleading.  The ASA found the posters did not make clear that the quoted figures related to the number of people who potentially would be affected in 2050, in comparison with those who potentially would be affected if expansion did not go ahead.

At the time a spokesman for Gatwick Airport said:

Gatwick makes no excuses for making the public aware of the huge difference in the number of people who would be impacted by noise if Heathrow was to expand, compared to Gatwick.

It remains the case that, should Heathrow be expanded, 320,000 people will be affected by noise that are not affected today.

For Gatwick, the number is 18,000.  These figures are not disputed.

Click on the following link to read other articles about Gatwick Airport.

You can read the full letter on the CrowboroughLife Facebook page and join in the conversation.



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  1. A massively powerful lobby from Crowborough’s ‘big beasts’ – why on earth would anyone be exercised by a low flying concentrated stream of whining jets above them when there is so much economic benefit to be had.

    What absolutely naive nonsense – 1,000 came together in Penshurst on Sunday to complain about the illegally imposed concentrated flight paths that are destroying their lives.

    Gatwick continues to tell lies and the CAA and NATS are complicit – if local business genuinely believes that any benefit will accrue they are totally deluded.

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