Campaigners hail research as showing Gatwick expansion would risk people's health (From Redhill And Reigate Life)
Got a story? Call 01273 544544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Campaigners hail research as showing Gatwick expansion would risk people's health
4:19pm Monday 14th October 2013 in Local News
Conservation campaigners fighting proposals for expansion at Gatwick have flagged up new research which they say has shown that a second runway there would risk people's health.
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) this week highlighted a study which it said “found that deaths from stroke, heart and circulatory disease are significantly higher in areas with high levels of aircraft noise than in places with the least noise.”
GACC stated that researchers at Imperial College London and King's College London compared data on day and night-time aircraft noise with hospital admissions and mortality rates among a population of 3.6 million people living near Heathrow.
The Charlwood-based group stated: “Although there are fewer people living under the flight-paths at Gatwick, the number of people at risk may be just as great because the lower background noise makes the noise impact worse.”
GACC joint vice-chairman Peter Barclay pointed to the findings' implications for local councils and for businesses.
Mr Barclay said: “Councils and MPs have a duty of care with respect to the health of the residents that they represent, and that means no more noise.”
He added: “How would the local hospitals cope with more heart attacks and strokes, in addition to all the other pressures from a new runway?
“The damage that poor sleep does to performance at work won't help local businesses either.”
GACC also pointed to the health implications for people living near Gatwick in respect of possible planning blight.
The group stated: “The recent speech by Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, in which he concluded that a new runway, or runways, would be needed in the South East has inevitably increased worries that Gatwick may be in line for a new runway.
"House prices will be depressed in any area that could be affected by increased noise, and that could involve over 10,000 home owners.
"Anxiety about not being able to sell one’s house has led some people into acute depression.”
GACC said Sir Howard had said that he is “looking for a solution to the blight problem,” and it stated that it had joined with airport environmental groups around other London airports to ask him to make it a rule that any airport which wishes to be included in his short-list - due in December - as a potential site for a new runway, must produce a scheme to alleviate blight.
The group stated: “When in July, GACC suggested to Gatwick Airport that they should re-introduce blight schemes similar to those set up by BAA in 2005, they replied that nothing would be done until 2015 at the earliest, but that the existing schemes remain in place.
“Yet people who have enquired about them can find nothing on the Gatwick website, and phone calls produce nil response.”
GACC joint vice-chairman, John Byng, said: “It is a disgrace that the airport spends so much money promoting the idea of a new runway, but is not prepared to do anything for those who suffer misery and anxiety as a result.”
GACC concluded: “Sussex residents have long been promised a new hospital.
“Despite campaigns supported by local MPS, there is still no new NHS hospital to care for the existing population, let alone the increased population due to expanding Gatwick.
“Night flights can damage health - it is known that insufficient sleep increases the levels of 'stress hormones' in the body.
“But new research has now shown that it takes much longer than previously thought to recover from the adverse effects of sleep deprivation, particularly with regard to day-time performance deficits."
A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport said: “Gatwick takes the issue of noise extremely seriously and continues to focus on reducing its impact on the local community.”
She said: “Should we move through to the next stage of consideration by the Airports Commission, Gatwick will undertake further assessments of how expansion could impact on health, quality of life and well-being as part of its detailed works. “The schemes we currently have in place to compensate home owners will, of course, also be fully reviewed.”
GACC, which is a voluntary community association, has as members about 100 borough, district and parish councils, covering about a 20-mile radius from the airport. Website: www.gacc.org.uk