Gatwick Inspired by the Ministry of Truth?


Emblazoned across the front of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth is the slogan “Ignorance is Strength”. I was reminded of this the other day, when through the letterbox landed a leaflet from the Gatwick High Command headed “One step closer to a brighter future-for everyone”.

And what does this brighter future hold for all of us? 

A second runway, by their own calculations, would double passenger numbers to 75,000,000 a year and increase the number of flights from 286,000 to 385,000. But not to worry, as everything in the Garden of England and other parts surrounding Gatwick will be just peachy because more jobs will be available and your economy will be jet propelled.

The leaflet ends with the message “Let’s take off together”. Indeed I can almost hear the revving of engines as droves of Kent, Sussex and Surrey residents depart forever, in order to escape the noise pollution, air quality and emissions issues and the sight of an additional 37,500,000 people fighting to get in and out of the airport.

Enter ignorance is strength.

Gatwick say it is committed to zero emissions by 2030 and its Supremo, Stewart Wingate, to demonstrate his credentials, has just landed a job as the co-chair of the Aviation Council. This gathering of the good , the bad and the ugly of the UK’s aviation clans, in its words “brings together industry to support the delivery and implementation of Flightpath to the Future”.

What, pray, is that?

Well it was set up by the Conservatives very own man-child, Grant Shapps, on his way through as the Minister of Transport, before moving on to lots of other pastures new. In his gushing intro, Shapps declares that the ultimate goal of Flightpath to the Future “is nothing less than guilt-free, zero emissions flying. So we must act quickly and decisively to put the industry on a green trajectory by developing clean aircraft, sustainable fuels and more efficient airspace and airports. Indeed we are making great strides to turn these conditions into reality through the Jet Zero programme”.

Yes the Ministry of Truth, now apparently residing in the Department of Transport, aided and abetted by the Aviation Council, is telling you and me that the future is green and pleasant, but that is a lie.

One of the two key areas of focus of the Jet Zero programme is sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). The Royal Society (Patron , the very green King Charles III) has been doing the homework.

In its February 2023 Report it estimated “that meeting existing UK aviation demand entirely with energy crops would require around half of UK agricultural land. While producing sufficient green hydrogen fuel would require 2.4-3.4 times the UK’s 2020 renewable (wind and solar) electricity generation.”

Bye bye Flightpath to the Future, Jet Zero, net zero, and any other ‘zero’ twaddle Gatwick and friends care to bamboozle us with.

So what are we left with as Gatwick blows bubbles of love at us?

Noise pollution goes sky high as another 100,000 flights buzz about our ears. Gatwick is already actively misleading on this as it averages noise measurement over a 24 hour period using three rotations. It should of course measure noise for each rotation but the Ministry of Truth would not stand for that.

Service resilience? Currently, when some in Air Traffic Control go sick with Covid, flights are cancelled willy-nilly and don’t mention ever present striking French controllers and other European frailties.

Emissions? Does Gatwick honestly take us for such mugs that they expect us to believe that tens of millions of additional passengers won’t result in periods of gridlock and massive bottlenecks around its airport?

Doubling capacity at Gatwick provides a brighter future for everyone, is a clear 10 on the twaddlometer. The Department of Transport should be ashamed of itself and Stewart Wingate and his team of chancers should be sent on a baggage belt to Hell.

The City Grump has spent some 40 years in the City of London. He started as a stockbroker’s analyst but after some years he decided he was too grumpy to continue with the sell side of things so he moved to the buy side and became a fund manager for the next 20 years, selling his own business in the 1990s. Post the millennium, he found himself in turn chairing a stockbroker, a financial PR company, and an Exchange. He still keeps his hand in, chairing a brace of VCTs and investing personally in start-ups. The City Grump’s publications are available here.