Gatwick and Heathrow air quality consultation 'too short'

Plane taking off from Gatwick Airport Image copyright PA
Image caption Four parish councils in West Kent are against the expansion of Gatwick Airport

Campaigners fighting a second runway at Gatwick say they have not been given enough time to respond to a public consultation on air quality.

The Airports Commission gave people three weeks to submit further evidence about air pollution on 8 May.

Four West Kent parish councils have called for more time to put together a "correct and democratic answer".

Next month, commission chairman Sir Howard Davies is expected to recommend a new runway for Gatwick or Heathrow.

Richard Streatfield, chairman of the High Weald Parish Councils Aviation Action Group, which covers Chiddingstone, Hever, Leigh and Penshurst authorities, said they would be asking Sir Howard to extend the consultation by nine weeks.

'Very late'

He said a number of new High Weald councillors had just been elected.

"They've got to do something potentially they've never looked at before and gather lots and lots of information and then agree something," he explained," he said.

"We think this consultation should be the same as any other and it should be 12 weeks long."

Sir Howard's decision to consult further came after a Supreme Court ruling in April, ordering the UK to do more to improve air quality.

Alastair McDermid, Gatwick's airports commission director, said although it was "very late in the process" they were pleased the commission had launched the consultation.

"This was a topic that we'd already done some work on so we may have been slightly ahead of the field by choosing to do that work at an earlier stage," he said.

The Airports Commission is considering three options for airport expansion in the South East - a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow, or an extension to one of the existing Heathrow runways.

It declined to comment on the length of the consultation.

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