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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 March, 2003, 20:51 GMT
Gatwick expansion 'would help Sussex'
Charlwood Church
Campaigners staged their meeting at ninth century Charlwood Church
As protesters begin to plan their opposition to the possible expansion of Gatwick Airport, local business leaders say a bigger airport is vital.

Hundreds of residents attended a meeting in Charlwood, a village near the West Sussex airport, to discuss their opposition to plans for a second runway.

They say the area already suffers enough noise pollution and traffic problems from being so close to the airport.

But a spokesman for chamber of commerce group Sussex Enterprise says expansion would bring jobs and money to the county.

Government forced to backtrack

Gatwick, which has one runway, was originally not to be included among possible options for increased airport capacity in the south east of England.

There will be more jobs and more international businesses would choose to locate here
Steven Gauge, Sussex Enterprise

But after legal action from councils close to Stanstead in Essex - earmarked for expansion - and Cliffe in Kent - the proposed site of a new airport - the government was forced to consider enlarging Gatwick.

Plans involving building either one or two new runways at Gatwick were outlined two weeks ago.

Steven Gauge of Sussex Enterprise said: "There will be more jobs and more international businesses would choose to locate here.

"It would be a really good opportunity to increase the GDP (gross domestic product) for Sussex and increase the income and wealth for everybody in the Sussex community.

'Area already congested'

"Businesses we represent in Sussex Enterprise overwhelmingly believe that an extra runway at Gatwick would increase their ability to do their jobs and would increase the strength of the local economy."

Charlwood sign
The village lies close to Gatwick's single runway

Campaigners held their meeting on Tuesday in Charlwood's Ninth Century church.

Before the meeting local resident Penny Shoubridge said: "The area's already congested.

"We're not far from London and the M25, the queues of traffic around the area already are just horrendous.

"Nobody wants any more runways in the south east at all.

"It would be a lot better if everybody utilised their local airports to the best of their ability and then it would be years before any further expansion was needed at all."

A final decision on what schemes will go ahead is expected from transport secretary Alastair Darling later this year.




SEE ALSO:
Gatwick campaigners' dismay
27 Feb 03 |  England
Groups unite to fight airport
30 Aug 02 |  England
Airport expansion plans unveiled
23 Jul 02 |  Politics


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