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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Opposition to runway goes on
Gatwick Airport
Charlwood, to the north of Gatwick, could disappear under a new runway

Campaigners against the expansion of Gatwick with a second runway have said they will carry on their battle.

A report released by the BAA on Monday has called for three new runways to be built in the South East - and put forward a new runway at Gatwick as one of four preferred options.

Protesters said the report was disappointing but said they would continue to fight the plans.

The options for Gatwick would see a new full-length runway either parallel and to the south of the existing one or a northern runway 2,900 metres from it.

Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Group, said they would campaign vigorously until the government reached its decision.

'Practical difficulties

He said: "We welcome the fact that BAA has recognised the practical difficulties of the proposed northern runway at Gatwick.

"But we are still strongly opposed to the suggestion of a second runway on the south of the airport.

"This would double the size of Gatwick and make it as big as Heathrow is today - and would cause huge environmental damage to Surrey, Sussex and western Kent.

"The BAA report really emphasises the physical constraints of the Gatwick site.

"It is too small an airport to fit in new runways because of the high ground and the railway and because of the towns and villages all around it."

Precarious balance

Peter Barclay, chairman of Charlwood Home Guard, said his group were concerned about the wider impact of expansion on local communities.

Charlwood could disappear if plans to build a second runway to the north of Gatwick go ahead.

The plan would also see passenger numbers at the West Sussex airport rocket from 32 million a year to 115 million - and bring more people to live in the area to support this.

"We do feel the additional runway will impose terrible constraints on the local infrastructure," Mr Barclay said.

"It would bring employment difficulties, housing difficulties and problems with hospitals, doctors and education, which are already precariously balanced."

Gatwick Airport was originally left out of government plans to increase air travel, because of an agreement banning expansion until 2019 between operator BAA and the local council.

But officials in Kent and Essex won a High Court legal battle to force the government to consider extending Gatwick.

The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"Conservationists have all ready launched a campaign"

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