Council tax vow over Gatwick noise


Airports Commission to report

Around 4,000 households most affected by noise from a possible second runway at Gatwick will get £1,000 towards their council tax, bosses of the West Sussex airport have promised.

The pledge involves annual compensation and is equivalent to Band A council tax.

Gatwick chiefs are pressing hard for an extra runway and such an option is on the shortlist now being considered by the Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission.

Under the leadership of former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, the commission is due to make its final recommendation for a new runway in summer 2015.

Gatwick's chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: "Expansion at Gatwick would, without doubt, deliver many upsides for our local community in terms of jobs and investment. But we must also recognise the negative noise impacts on local people from more flights.

"Gatwick's location obviously means that comparatively fewer people would be affected by a new runway. However, I believe we must do more to help those that would be affected."

He went on: "How we best compensate communities affected by major infrastructure projects is an issue facing a growing number of sectors - from aviation to energy. Our proposal would see the people most affected by expansion at Gatwick receiving monetary compensation.

"Under the scheme, we are pledging £1,000 towards council tax for qualifying households in the local area, if and when a second runway became operational. Our current estimate is that as many as 4,100 households could qualify for this scheme and so this would provide a real and positive benefit to a significant number of people.

"Environmental issues are at the centre of the debate about runway capacity in the South East and noise reduction, mitigation and compensation are therefore at the heart of our expansion plans.
This scheme will be a cornerstone of our planned package of measures for local residents."

One of those opposed to a second runway at Gatwick is Horsham Tory MP Francis Maude.

Yesterday he addressed more than 300 residents of the village of Warnham who are objecting to a new Gatwick flight path trial.

Mr Maude said of the trial: "Even these last few weeks, with the weather keeping people indoors and off-season traffic levels, the noise from the flight path trial has been unacceptable for local residents.

"When high holiday season is on us, with the warm weather enticing people outside, the effects are likely to be intolerable. So I'm urging (air traffic control company) Nats and Gatwick to call time on this trial now. We've had the trial. It's failed."

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