A group of south London Councils has called on the Government to back Gatwick’s second runway in preference to Heathrow, as Jeremy Corbyn appears also to back the Sussex airport over the UKs current hub airport, Heathrow.
In an open letter the leaders of Croydon, Kingston, Southwark and Wandsworth councils say Gatwick “is the only achievable option”.
The councils acknowledge that Expanding Heathrow would bring new connectivity and growth, but say that they believe it will not be able to expand because of noise, air pollution and traffic congestion.
Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn made comments during a visit to Crawley that appeared to suggest he might favour expansion there. The Evening Standard reports that while confirming his own opposition to expansion at Heathrow, he saw Gatwick as a possibility, along with other airports further afield like Birmingham.
This clearly chimes with the opinions of his key ally, John McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington, Shadow Chancellor, and longtime Heathrow opponent.
Both the councils’ position, and that of Mr Corbyn, are significantly at odds with the report of the Airports Commission which recommended, unanimously, expansion at Heathrow, and show we run the risk of wasting even more time and money making a decision about where to expand aviation capacity around London.
What is important is that the Government shows some courage and leadership, makes a decision now, and gets on with it. All business groups would agree we have already prevaricated for too long, and that the whole of the UK will suffer for any further delay.
Heathrow proponents would say that noise, air quality and traffic congestion are not issues, can be managed, and will be mitigated by advances in aviation and automotive technology, and that expansion at Heathrow would provide the biggest economic boost to the whole country, an opinion shared by the Airports Commission.
The Government has promised to respond to the report before the end of 2015.