This week the Government finally announced that its preferred location for a new runway was Heathrow and not Gatwick.
There hasn’t been a new runway built in the South East since World War Two. Over that time there has been much debate about airport expansion, particularly over the last two years when both Heathrow and Gatwick submitted their proposals.
As a County Council, we took a decision in January 2015 not to support expansion at Gatwick. However, we also took the approach that whatever option the Government chose, we would work hard to ensure we did the best for our county to minimise the impact.
We know that many of our residents are deeply concerned about Gatwick expansion and they will feel relieved at the announcement made on Tuesday.
There has been a 30-year-agreement, which expires in 2019, between Gatwick Airport, Surrey and West Sussex County Council that there would be no second runway built in that time.
So what does Tuesday’s announcement mean for the county?
The County Council is committed to ensuring there is a strong vibrant economy in our county – it is one of our core priorities.
In West Sussex we are fortunate to have a strong diverse economy with world-class companies as well as medium to small businesses.
We need to ensure that businesses are able to grow and thrive here, that’s not just only about having the country’s second largest airport in our backyard, although that is useful to many businesses.
It is about ensuring we have a well-skilled work force, excellent well-funded schools giving children the best start of life and investing in our infrastructure.
It is why we are asking the Government for transition funding for our cash-starved schools.
It is why we are committed to 3SC – West Sussex, East Sussex and Surrey – and working on an exciting devolution bid to ensure we can directly influence the skills agenda, the infrastructure in the area whilst protecting and enhancing our lovely green spaces valued by everyone.
We, along with our district and borough council partners, the 3SC and Local Enterprise Partnership, are working closely together to make sure our uniquely strong and vibrant business economy continues to grow.
This a great area that offers so much to employers, businesses and communities we will reinforce our efforts by engaging and listening to our many businesses, working with our partners such as the LEP, Districts and Boroughs to maintain the economic vibrancy here in West Sussex. We are certainly open for business.