Monday, 24 November 2014
Five Members of Parliament were on the platform, and three more sent messages of support, at a mass protest meeting on Saturday 22 November organised by the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC). That is all the MPs from around Gatwick, and helps to disprove the assumption in some national newspapers that Gatwick would politically be the easiest option for a new runway.
The MPs were united in expressing their concern about new flight paths and about the threat of a second runway. Extracts from their speeches and messages are attached.
Over 1,000 people crammed into the Apple Tree Centre in
and were welcomed by three racy air hostesses, and by the Mayor of Crawley,
Cllr Brenda Smith who later, speaking as the local councillor, expressed her
deep-felt opposition to a new runway.
Some twenty national and local environmental groups, including the Sussex Wildlife Trust, set up stands around the hall and answered questions from anxious members of the public.
Questions from the floor were answered by a panel of experts which included Keith Taylor (Member European Parliament), Cait Hewitt (Aviation Environment Federation), Sarah Clayton (AirportWatch), Sally Pavey (CAGNE), Richard Streatfeild (High Weald Parishes Aviation Action Group), and Brendon Sewill (GACC) under the chairmanship of Cllr Helyn Clack (Surrey County Council).
The meeting unanimously held up large cards saying NO when asked if they were in favour of new flight paths, and held up the NO cards again when asked if they were in favour of a second runway.
The afternoon concluded with 1,000 people singing ‘What shall we do with
’ to the tune of the Drunken
Sailor. Gatwick Airport
Extracts from MPs’ speeches and messages
Cabinet member Rt Hon Francis Maude (Horsham) was abroad on Government business but sent a message: ‘As you know, I have always opposed a second runway at Gatwick. We all know that there are big advantages for our area in having a successful airport as a centre for jobs and business, and I support Gatwick's expansion as a single runway airport. That remains my view.’
Crispin Blunt MP (
told the meeting why he had organised the Gatwick Co-ordination Group of MPs –
because a second runway would be a 'disaster for surrounding communities and
environment.' Many areas are
being ‘appallingly affected by PRNAV’ [the new system of concentrated
Nicholas Soames (Mid
second runway would be a disaster for our local environment. … 120,000 extra people
- where they are expected to go is beyond me…. The London
to Brighton railway line is already at full
capacity - impossible to upgrade sufficiently. .. We must oppose this with all
the power we have.’
Henry Smith (Crawley) noted that 'public opinion in
is divided. … There would be a significant impact on housing and infrastructure
- school places, GP surgery sizes, healthcare – a need for a new hospital. … Gatwick
have not made the case for expansion here.’
Sam Gyimah (
sent a message: New flight paths have caused misery for my
constituents, which is why I have called for Gatwick to abandon its
implementation of the PRNAV system. I would like to congratulate GACC for
organising this meeting, and your ongoing work to hold Gatwick to account over
these changes and the possibility of a second runway, which could cause
significant environmental damage and pressure on local infrastructure.
SirJohn Stanley (Tonbridge) sent this message: ‘I am totally opposed to Gatwick’s new flight path proposals which will make the already intolerable noise disturbance still more intolerable. I am also totally opposed to a second runway at Gatwick.'
Charles Hendry (Wealden) commented on ‘the extraordinarily huge meeting here today. ... Gatwick has not been straight with us and are not good neighbours. If they are not good neighbours today, then the possible doubling in size is intolerable. A second runway does not make economic sense and it does not make environmental sense.’
Sir Paul Beresford (
the meeting that a second runway would mean 'putting a city on
Gatwick'....'public transport links are already overburdened'... 'M25 is a
parking lot'.........'national businesses are not impressed with Gatwick's
proposal.’ Mole Valley
A list of the stands, and text of the air hostesses’ announcement can be found on www.gacc.org.uk/latest-news
Monday, 10 November 2014
The West Sussex Environment and Climate Change Board (ECCB) brings together several organisations from across the County to ensure the challenge of Climate Change is recognised and addressed in
Sussex. One issue that has
a significant effect on our carbon footprint, and therefore how we effect
climate change, is food. The ECCB
therefore established it’s Food Group.
The Food Group is intended to enable and encourage new thinking around local food and drink; why it is important to us as individuals and to the West Sussex Economy. We are the newest sub-group of the ECCB and are currently working on a Sustainable Food Plan for
Sussex. This plan aims
to reduce the food-related carbon and ecological footprint of the County by
working to the following principles:
- Raise awareness of what local, seasonal and sustainable food means and ensure it is promoted and celebrated by residents and visitors
- Enhance education and skills training through high quality information
- Encourage the development of market places to help people get access to local food and drink
- Address issues of health and obesity in relation to diet
- Work with WSCC Waste Services to help residents, businesses and public sector to reduce, redistribute, recycle, reuse food waste
The Sustainable Food Plan will help to reduce the food-related carbon and ecological footprint of the County. Can you help us to make it better? A consultation on this plan is now open and will run until the 15th December. We will then write a report of all responses, ensuring anonymity, which will be available by 12th January 2015.
Through this survey, we would like to ask you for your thoughts on the document, whether you can help us, what projects are already being carried out and any ideas you may have on how we can raise awareness and get more people involved.
Your views are important to us. Please take a few minutes after reading the draft plan to complete this online survey.
Friday, 7 November 2014
It makes sense doesn't it? You’re caught in a traffic jam; clearly we need a bigger road, or a new road, or a road somewhere else. And, of course, if there was another road then all the other cars would use it, relieving congestion everywhere.
A big, new road is something simple and obvious; you can put a ribbon across it and declare it open, to a fanfare of appreciation from an appreciative economic sector who are now happy (until the next time).
The Department for Transport in developing its A27 feasibility study also seem to be swallowing all these old assumptions. But life, however, is not that simple. Simple solutions to complex problems are always wrong.
As in the past, environmental concerns are pushed to one side. One option for the Arundel bypass will cause the greatest loss of ancient woodland in
Sussex for the last 20 years;
the other will destroy the setting of two villages. But to some this is a price worth paying in
order to relieve congestion and stimulate the economy.
So we get back to the old “your money or your life” approach of balancing the economy against the environment.
However, whilst the environmental costs are measurable, severe and obvious; the economic benefits are shrouded in mystery, assumption and pre-conception.
Economic benefit is based reduced travel times and perception surveys about how much better business would be if congestion was removed. Ask a business how much better life would be and you get an obvious answer; so arguments build up to support a road-building case. Businesses, however, need real solutions and views very quickly change when the reality of a situation becomes clear.
Road building does not deliver the relief of congestion that is generally claimed – quite the reverse.
Roads generate new traffic and that creates new, and worse, congestion. This is not the view of an “anti-road green group” but the clear conclusion of study after study. For an excellent outline of this “induced traffic” phenomenon read this article by Professor Phil Goodwin, a lead author of one of these studies.
“An average road improvement, for which traffic growth due to other factors has been forecast correctly, will see an additional 10% of base traffic in the short term and 20% in the long term”. This is the conclusion of the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment in 1994. The same study also looked at roads surrounding trunk road improvements – their use went up on average by 16%. So, the roads that are supposed to be relived by a new road receive 16% more traffic than the predicted increase.
Even in the unlikely event that the A27 flows more freely following enlargement, surrounding roads in towns, countryside and villages will receive more traffic, more congestion, more hold-ups and more pollution.
What is more, this sort of conclusion, with these sorts of figures, has been reached again and again, on average every 8 years since 1925!
About every 10 years we go through the same process. First we insist on forgetting the lessons of the past and push for new roads. Roads get built, the environment suffers more damage, traffic gets worse and congestion increases. This results in demands for yet more roads and more environmental damage until, eventually we have to realise the reality of the situation and seek more sophisticated solutions.
Interestingly, Phil Goodwin’s article was written in 2006, the last time we went through this repeating process.
The editors comment at the end was interesting –
“Don’t lose this – we might need to publish it again in 2014”!!