Demand for environmental credentials on the second runway at Gatwick

EASTBOURNE councilors are to seek further information on the environmental impact of a second runway at Gatwick Airport.

On Wednesday (20 July) Eastbourne Borough Council debated a motion by Conservative group leader Robert Smart, urging the agency to reaffirm its support for the full-time opening of the airport’s emergency runway.

The Council had already expressed support for a second runway in 2013.

Cllr Smart said: “The South East of England needs to remain internationally competitive with adequate infrastructure and connectivity. Eastbourne offers great opportunities when such connectivity is provided; with the Welcome Building, it enriches its international tourist offer and in particular its congress area.

“There clearly has to be a balance between the economy and the environment. The aviation industry has made great technological advances for the environment. The planes are much quieter, but they keep improving on carbon.

“Gatwick Airport itself became the first London airport to be carbon neutral, excluding jet fuel, in 2017. It has pledged to be carbon neutral, including fuel, by 2040 – ten years ahead of the national target.”

These claims of carbon neutrality — which were also included in the written version of the motion — were met with skepticism from several council members. Against this backdrop, Liberal Democrat cabinet member Colin Swansborough proposed an amended motion to replace Cllr Smart’s proposal.

This amended motion asked the Council’s Audit Committee to review the airport’s carbon claims and report back before a further vote. It also noted that the council had made a self-commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Cllr Swansborough said: “We supported the second breakaway in 2013 but we have since passed a carbon neutral motion. It says something about our realization that we really can’t go on like this.

“We really can’t keep adding clumps of detrimental technology to get more and more money at the expense of the planet. We all know that air travel has significant negative effects [and] it doesn’t get any better if you put more planes there.”

Cllr Swansborough also challenged another part of Cllr Smart’s motion, which is the claim that a second runway would add a further £1.5billion to the region’s economy each year and create 18,400 new jobs.

He added: “Given the criticism of the way Gatwick’s submissions were originally compiled, we would like to undertake further investigation into what this data means, rather than just accepting numbers thrown at us in the middle of a Council meeting. ”

Despite some criticism, Cllr Smart said he would like the Council’s Audit Committee to examine the Gatwick proposals. However, he said his group would abstain because it would prevent a vote on the original motion.

This was also criticized by Conservative Councilor Colin Belsey (Ratton), who said: “It was not an amendment. A change request is when you change a word or two within a request. It’s not about ignoring one and inserting another.

“I really feel like we are losing democracy in this chamber because it is governed. We’re just being ignored.”

In response, officials confirmed that the Lib Dem proposal was a valid change. Demand for environmental credentials on the second runway at Gatwick

Fry Electronics Team

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