THE new owner of Gatwick airport must not "ride roughshod" over the local community, the head of the area’s conservation group said today.
There were now concerns that "a faceless international consortium will squeeze every pound it can out of the airport rather than addressing local worries", added Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign.
He went on: "We would like to establish at once a good working relationship with the new owners.
"They have to realise that there is in place a strong combination of a conservation campaign group and very supportive local authorities and local MPs."
Mr Sewill added: "We are concerned about noise and pollution and climate change. There are plans to expand the North Terminal at Gatwick to allow for an extra five million passengers a year. We are fighting to ensure that this does not increase noise levels."
Gatwick is bound by a long-standing regulation that there be no second runway before 2019.
Mr Sewill said: "There are other local agreements concerning the airport. We just hope that the new owners will continue the relationship between the airport and the local community."
Andy Flower, managing director of Gatwick Airport, said: ``Today's announcement is a landmark day for the airport, our staff, airlines and business partners, members of the local community and of course, the 34 million passengers who choose to fly through Gatwick each year.
"We now look forward to working with Global Infrastructure Partners to maximise the potential of Gatwick."
Stephen Joseph, director of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ``We hope that this news will mean that there will be better service for passengers at Gatwick than that provided by BAA.
"We don’t think this should be a green light for expansion at Gatwick. For many reasons, we are opposed to expansion of south east England airports.
"We think Gatwick should be better, not bigger."
Paul Charles, director of communications at Virgin Atlantic Airways, said: ``As the largest long-haul airline using the airport, we look forward to working with Global Infrastructure Partners on making Gatwick even better for our passengers.
"For years, the airport has suffered from a lack of investment and the new owner now needs to work closely with the airline users to turn Gatwick into a world-class facility.
"We don’t want to see the creation of another BAA and hope GIP listens carefully to the views of airlines about future development."