Brighton & Hove Labour Council announces it will not support Gatwick expansion

Graham Robson September 6, 2023

The Labour administration in Brighton & Hove has announced it will not support plans submitted by Gatwick Airport to bring its second runway into use after the airport submitted a Development Consent Order in July proposing to convert its emergency standby runway into regular use. Gatwick states that doing so will increase capacity of 382,000 flights per year and 75 million passengers per year by 2038 (up from 46 million in 2019).

A report, which will be brought to the 14 September meeting of Brighton & Hove City Council’s Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development committee, will set out the consultation process and will recommend that delegated authority is given to the Chair of the Committee, Councillor Alan Robins, and officers, to respond to the Gatwick proposal.

The city council’s response will include officers’ technical views on the potential impacts on the city, including on local infrastructure, and input from Transport Officers regarding the assessment of the impact on the highway. The response will also detail the Council’s view on the wider implications of the proposal, which will include concerns over climate change impacts, noting what the city council calls its “drive to become carbon neutral by 2030 and the national target of net zero carbon by 2050”.

Cllr Bella Sankey, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “We support vital investment in our regional transport infrastructure, but every investment, particularly of this scale, must be judged on whether it meets key tests that realise the seriousness of the climate crisis and the direct impact on our city.

“As a Council we have declared a climate emergency and aim to become a carbon neutral city by 2030. We’re also signed up the Charter for Clean Air and committed to improving air quality. Supporting Gatwick’s proposal to bring its second runway, without key climate change tests being met, would contradict these aims.

“We are clear that any airport expansion must pass our tests on air quality, noise pollution, and delivering economic benefits while enabling us to meet our obligations on climate change. The proposal for Gatwick at present, does not meet those tests.”

Cllr Alan Robins, chair of the Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development Committee, added: “We cannot in all good conscience support a proposal that would double passenger numbers knowing the environmental impact that would have. The Government’s own Climate Committee says that no airport expansion at all should go ahead until the government sorts out a proper way to manage it.

“There is no doubt that our visitor economy in the city benefits from our excellent transport links nationally and internationally, including its close proximity to Gatwick Airport. We will continue to work with the airport to identify how the city and region can work together on tourism for mutual benefit, in a sustainable way.”