Election 2015 England

Candidates clash over Gatwick Airport plans

Gatwick Airport Image copyright PA
Image caption A second Gatwick runway is one of the options being considered by the Airports Commission

Infrastructure would have to be a top priority if Gatwick Airport expanded, according to candidates standing in the forthcoming election.

Five candidates from Crawley, Horsham and Reigate clashed over the future of aviation during a BBC Surrey debate.

They argued over whether to expand Heathrow, Gatwick or neither airport.

The Airports Commission, headed by Sir Howard Davies, has said a new runway is needed by 2030 and will make recommendations after the election.

It is considering three options - a second Gatwick runway, a third Heathrow runway, or an extension to an existing Heathrow runway.

'Lives blighted'

Crawley Labour candidate, Chris Oxlade, said planned investment in infrastructure currently did not benefit the town and negotiations were needed to get the best deal - which would include a Crawley bypass.

Reigate Conservative candidate, Crispin Blunt, said the economic value of expanding Heathrow was £100bn more than Gatwick.

He added: "It is absolutely plain the transport infrastructure that goes into Gatwick is completely incapable of supporting the expansion of Gatwick on the scale they're proposing."

Horsham UKIP candidate, Roger Arthur, preferred Heathrow expansion. He claimed infrastructure costs of several billion would be covered by neither Gatwick nor the government and lives would be "blighted by noise, overcrowding and pollution".

Horsham Liberal Democrat, Morwen Millson, said infrastructure had to be dealt with, or expansion could not happen. But she added local jobs were needed, not just low-paid luggage-handlers and caterers but also jobs in science and technology.

And Reigate Green candidate Jonathan Essex opposed any expansion. He said: "Around Gatwick, we've got congestion, noise, air pollution. We'll have building on the green belt and countryside because of the housing required to support the increase in the economy locally. But Heathrow has exactly the same issues."

'Local road fund'

A Gatwick spokesman said the Airports Commission, Network Rail and the Highways Agency had all agreed road and rail improvements would be more than adequate, with rail capacity doubling in five years and nearly trebling by 2035.

The airport had pledged £46.5m to deliver essential community infrastructure such as housing and schools and development would be over a wide area, not just near the airport, he added.

Other measures would include a local road improvement fund, better traffic management and better journey times.

He said the airport would fund a new runway and necessary infrastructure improvements.

Gatwick's plans were the most environmentally-friendly solution, he added.

Crawley candidates

  • Chris Brown is standing for UKIP
  • Guy Hudson is standing for the Green Party
  • Sarah Osbourne is standing for the Liberal Demorats
  • Chris Oxlade is standing for Labour
  • Henry Smith is standing for the Conservatives

Horsham candidates

  • Roger Arthur is standing for UKIP
  • Martyn Davis is standing for Labour
  • Jim Duggan is standing for the Peace Party
  • Darrin Green is standing for the Green Party
  • Morwen Millson is standing for the Liberal Democrats
  • Jeremy Quin is standing for the Conservatives
  • Jim Rae is standing for the Independents
  • James Smith is standing for the Something New party

Reigate candidates

  • Ali Aklakul is standing for Labour
  • Crispin Blunt is standing for the Conservatives
  • Jonathan Essex is standing for the Green Party
  • Joseph Fox is standing for UKIP
  • Anna Tarrant is standing for the Liberal Democrats

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