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“Untenable” Gatwick plan fails climate challenge

Thursday, 25 July 2019 09:15

Letter to the editor: West Sussex County Times​ 22 July 2019

Dear Sir,

According to climate scientists “record temperatures across much of the world over the past two weeks could make July the hottest month ever measured on Earth”, that “nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000” – and that these “record warm streaks are certain to not only continue but to worsen if we continue to burn fossil fuels and warm the planet” (The Guardian 16 July 2019).

Note too that within the Arctic Circle, communities in Alaska and Nunavut, including the world’s most northerly community, Alert, Ellesmere Island, are experiencing a record-breaking heat wave (‘The Canadian Press’ 15 July 2019; Nunatsiaq News 17 July 2019), which will accelerate the melting there of glaciers, ice caps and sea ice thereby accelerating rising sea level.

Note also that climate scientists have determined that “scenarios of 21st century global total sea level rise exceeding 2 metres” should be used for planning purposes and that “beyond 2100, uncertainty and projected sea level rise increase rapidly”. (

Meanwhile, Gatwick Airport Limited has released the results of its ‘Gatwick Airport Draft Master Plan 2018’ consultation, together with a more detailed ‘Master Plan 2019’, whilst simultaneously announcing that it is now preparing a planning application “to bring its standby runway in to routine use”.

Given the reality now generally accepted that climate change is an existential threat, Gatwick Airport Limited’s proposal, which if permitted would increase significantly the movement of aircraft flying in and out of Gatwick, and passengers travelling to and from the airport, with a consequent increase in harming emissions, would seem to be inappropriate and untenable.

After all, Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, (in his Kew Gardens’ speech) warned that time was running out to reverse the damage being done to the planet by humans, with wildlife populations and forests in decline and temperatures rising and that “These twin challenges of biodiversity and climate change are massive and urgent and interrelated. The action taken so far hasn’t been sufficient, but late as it may be, there is still time” (The Guardian,16 July 2019).

Yours faithfully, Dr R F Smith
Trustee CPRE Sussex

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