It's Time to Resolve the Airport Debate

GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) is the local group which campaigns on issues around Gatwick.  I attended their AGM last year and was invited this week to their next.  By the time it is called I very much hope we will have a decision on the Airport Debate.   This has been hanging over people living in the vicinity of Gatwick (and for that matter Heathrow) for too long, and it is time we got a resolution. 

It is not often I find myself in agreement with the SNP but they added their voices this week to the many who say that expansion at Heathrow is the right answer for the UK.  This includes many MPs in West London who are keen to see the jobs that Heathrow expansion will create in an area of relatively high unemployment. 

Heathrow expansion was the very clear recommendation of the Davies Commission which believes it is deliverable and would produce the best results economically.  The Government paused last summer in order to investigate more fully the concerns around air quality and other environmental issues at both potential sites before coming to its conclusion.  As I said in the Commons at the time, the key issue on air quality around airports is not actually aircraft but emissions from cars and lorries.  To stop airport expansion because of car emissions would be to wield a large hammer to miss the nut.  I was delighted last week when this view was further supported by an independent scientific study which confirmed that expansion at Heathrow could proceed while air quality is improved through measures tackling car pollution.

There has been a massive lobbying effort over the last few years, locally and in Westminster.  This is continuing at frantic pace even as I write.  I hope that it pays off and we get a decision in favour of Heathrow expansion.  If that is the case that must settle the matter.  Davies made clear that expansion at two sites simultaneously would be economically impossible to sustain and in any event runways, as nationally significant infrastructure projects, are decisions taken on a national basis.  We await the final result.