Greens are supporting a new report by Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE). The report asks: should the Government be considering selecting Gatwick for expansion when its principal business model is to export UK citizens to Europe for low cost holidays, on budget airlines?*
The 1960s saw the first package holidays to Spain and there started the decline of our coastal regions. The report asks why the Government is considering expanding Gatwick Airport which is dependent upon package holiday business, which brings the least into the UK economy** and is potentially badly affected by recession?
Only recently the Government shared £90m amongst the coastal regions of the UK and yet Gatwick expansion will cost the taxpayer £10bn alone just for the essential surface access according to Transport for London.***
The Southeast coastal regions are some of the most attractive in the world. Brighton is listed as one of the top 10 beach destinations in the world, and yet the Government seeks to spend billions on infrastructure the primary aim of which will be to deliver UK citizens to Gatwick in order to fly overseas on holiday.
Cllr Jonathan Essex, South East Green Party Chair said:
"The aviation industry benefits from tax breaks but doesn't pay for the detrimental impact it has on the climate or the quality of the air we all breathe. We have amazing countryside and beautiful beaches in the South East, yet holiday-makers are continually drawn away by artificially cheap short haul flights. Holidaying in the UK benefits local people and local economies. Jetting off abroad sends our money flying out of our pockets and into the hands of Gatwick Airport Limited's foreign shareholders."
Terrorism, health fears, air traffic control strikes, the refugee crisis and the exchange rates have all raised concerns for the travelling public and the airlines, and so it should sound alarm bells for the Government to think again about expanding an airport that could become a white elephant (see CAGNE Report White Elephant at www.cagne.org) as the leisure market is impacted, and potentially the UK dips into recession.
The report released today by CAGNE clearly shows how Gatwick is reliant upon European travel and package holidays and how it suffers the most during recession. Facts and figures provided by the Civil Aviaiton Authority and other references can be found on the back page of the report.
The report details how, post Brexit, low cost airlines are suffering in the downturn of overseas travel by families, and the drop in the value of the pound.
“It would seem total madness for the Government to be considering spending billions of taxpayer money on an airport that financially impacts our coastal regions. To encourage more people to fly to Europe for low cost holidays by expanding Gatwick would seem to work totally against our holiday resorts who are crying out for custom.”
Tom Druitt, Brighton and Hove Green Party Councillor and Economic Development spokesperson said:
"The government must recognise there is no case for expansion. It is, and always has been, a myth that the UK faces an airport capacity crisis; we already fly more than any other country. It is the huge budgets of the airport and pro-expansion lobbies that have been deployed to convince us otherwise. All but one UK airport is under-capacity and demand is predicted to fall, rather than rise, following the decision to leave the EU.
Existing rail services could offer workable alternatives to short-haul flights, freeing up capacity at airports and thus releasing landing slots for longer haul flights. Instead of spending billions of pounds of taxpayers' money on unnecessary expansion, Theresa May could be investing in the home grown tourism industry that is vital to our coastal communities.
With climate experts warning that Britain is on course to miss key climate targets, it's important to note that meeting our climate change commitments while building any major new runways is impossible – the two policies are wholly incompatible. I am calling on Theresa May to be bold, to stand up to big business propaganda, and reject the environmentally detrimental expansion proposals, not just at Gatwick, but at Heathrow too.”
* New long haul destinations 2050 Heathrow 75: Gatwick 21.
Airports Commission final report page 21.
** GDP increase Heathrow (carbon traded) £137-147 billion: Gatwick
£89 billion. Heathrow (carbon capped) £103-129 billion: Gatwick
£44 billion. Airports Commission final report page 24.
New long haul destinations 2050 Heathrow 75: Gatwick 21.
Airports Commission final report page 21.
*** TfL Mayor Surface Access Supplementary Note 04 February 2015