Conservation campaigners have welcomed a key report “ruling out” the idea of a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow.
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) said it was pleased that the Select Committee on Transport had given the thumbs-down to the rail link-up, dubbed “Heathwick,” in its report this week.
GACC branded the concept “an ultra-silly idea.”
Its chairman, Brendon Sewill said: “It was always an ultra-silly idea with a huge environmental cost.”
The conservation group, based in Charlwood and with nearly 100 borough, district and parish councils and environmental groups as members, covering about a 20-mile radius from the airport, also rubbished the business case that a second runway at Gatwick Airport could play a part in increasing airport competition.
In a statement, GACC said: “The Select Committee on Transport in their report recommends that Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) should ‘develop a robust business case to demonstrate the role that a two runway airport could play in increasing airport competition.’ “GACC agrees with the Select Committee that no such case exists at present.
“GAL have stated that a new runway and a new terminal would cost £3 to £5 billion. “That is two or three times as much as they paid in 2009 to buy Gatwick - £1.5 billion.”
Mr Sewill said: “Where is the money coming from?
“Would the Gatwick airlines such as easyJet be willing to pay higher landing fees?”
Mr Sewill, of Stan Hill, Charlwood, said: “Even if there were a business case for a new Gatwick runway, the environmental case against is overwhelming.”
But he continued: “The main recommendation of the Select Committee, however, is that Heathrow should be expanded with one or two new runways.
“GACC believes that this is unnecessary.”
He added: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues at Heathrow and Stansted in resisting any new runway.”
Citing the paper on Aviation Demand Forecasting submitted to the Airports Commission by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), Mr Sewill said: “The official forecasts of future demand are based on an unexplained assumption that the trend towards larger aircraft slows down.
“If instead the number of passengers per aircraft continues to increase at the same rate as over the past 20 years, it can be shown that there will be no need for any new runway in the South East before 2050."