East Sussex County Council has reacted with disappointment to the news that Heathrow is to get a new runway rather than Gatwick – but Wealden MP Nus Ghani is pleased.
East Sussex councillors have vowed to continue to back the Sussex airport in its long-term ambition to expand.
It had argued that a new runway at Gatwick could be built quicker, cheaper and with less impact than Heathrow, and that it would have created up to 63,000 new jobs.
Cllr Rupert Simmons the council’s lead member for economy, said: “We’re naturally disappointed by the decision as we felt expanding Gatwick would not only provide a huge economic boost to East Sussex but would be the best solution for the south east and the UK as a whole.
“However, we do welcome the fact that a decision has been made so that the uncertainty is finally over and local residents and businesses affected by expansion now know where they stand.”
Wealden MP Nus Ghani, on the other hand said the decision in favour of Heathrow was absolutely the right one, made in the national interest.
“It shows that Britain is open for business and ambitious about the future. I am pleased that the pressure I have put on Government, together with my colleagues on the Gatwick Coordination Group of local MPs, has resulted in the right decision.”
Ms Ghani said Heathrow already handled just under a third of the UK’s non-EU exports, compared with Gatwick’s 0.2%, so expanding Heathrow proved to the world the county is open for trade following the vote to leave the EU.
She added: “Evidence has also shown that Heathrow unlocks nearly £60bn of growth, while Gatwick only offers £4bn.”
The MP said: “It is a relief for us here in Sussex that Gatwick has not been given the go-ahead. From the perspective of local residents, the additional noise disruption would have been appalling, and it would not have been balanced out by economic benefits.
“We as Gatwick passengers would have faced higher prices, as EasyJet had warned that capped passenger fees by the airport would cause fares to rise by 17%.
“With such a freeze, there would have been no return on investment until beyond 2050, bad for the country and bad for East Sussex.
“It is now time for the owners of Gatwick to abandon their plans for a new runway and concentrate on becoming a better neighbour of the local residents they currently have such a strained relationship with.”
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