East Grinstead Society

Comments to the Airports Commission regarding their consultation on the expansion of one or other of London’s airports

Dear Sirs

On behalf of The East Grinstead Society I would like to respond to your request for comments about the options for increasing runway capacity either at Gatwick or Heathrow Airports.

Some of these comments may appear to be rather specific to East Grinstead but, we believe, they are relevant to many communities in the area which would be particularly hard hit by the effects of a second runway at Gatwick.

We are against an expansion at Gatwick. The area already suffers from an infrastructure deficit arising from developments in the past which made an inadequate contribution to the road network and local facilities and the influx of a large number of additional inhabitants would only add to the problems. They would require houses, schools, hospitals, other utilities and recreational facilities.

Building in the area is constrained by the EU Habitats Directive incorporated into UK law as the Habitats Regulations. These extend protection to the Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area designated on Ashdown Forest. There is substantial evidence to indicate that a doubling of capacity at Gatwick on its own would have a significant impact on Ashdown Forest in terms of noise and pollution even before considering the impact of the associated housing and additional economic activity that would result from GAL’s proposals. We are not claiming that all the new workers and their families would want to live in and around East Grinstead but a substantial number of workers currently employed at Gatwick or in firms associated with the airport do and there is no reason to suppose that the proportion will diminish.

As stated earlier the road network in East Grinstead is inadequate and cannot cater for the existing traffic requirements. The A22/A264 is overloaded at present and could not cope with even a small proportion of the traffic increases implied by the increased size of Gatwick Airport. Nor has the increase in east/west traffic from extra travellers that would arise add a result of these plans been taken into account. Not all the customers would travel north/south and the topography of Ashdown Forest and the Weald does not lend itself to the A22 and the A264 becoming motorways. This has severe pollution and congestion implications for Ashdown Forest, East Grinstead and the villages around.

N J Beale
The East Grinstead Society