The recent Davies Commission opted for Heathrow as their official recommendation. I have always been of the view that Gatwick is the right choice; it can be delivered quicker, is cheaper and has far better environmental benefits compared to Heathrow.
And importantly much of the procurement (up to 40 per cent) for the construction phase as well as the ongoing employment will go to ‘local’ companies; Eastbourne can be part of that.
So it would be to our economic benefit, and I am pleased that both Eastbourne Borough Council, and East Sussex County Council have endorsed this position.
Many local people have written to me on this, and I have discussed it many times with local businesses, both small and large. The case is clear.
There is a strong anti-Heathrow feeling among many MPs and others, as I discussed with new London Mayoral Candidate Zac Goldsmith this week at Conference.
But of course there is a big ‘anti Gatwick’ lobby as well. And I do have some sympathy with their position; but I take the view that the potential economic benefits for Eastbourne and Willingdon outweigh the negatives. Additional UK airport capacity is clearly and desperately needed, and I have no doubt that Gatwick is the best place for it.
I will continue to press the Government to not blindly follow the Davies commission recommendation. The commission makes clear that with Heathrow there would be many more people affected by noise compared to Gatwick. A Heathrow development would mean nearly 800 homes will have to be demolished, and the cost of the entire scheme is likely to be £20bn+ (including public access changes) compared to less than £8bn for Gatwick
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