Gatwick announces plans for second runway

Gatwick Airport has submitted its plans to the Airports Commission for a second runway to the south of the current location.

According to the airport’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, the proposal offers ‘the most affordable, sustainable and deliverable solution’ for London and the UK as a whole. He claims that the runway could be built at an estimated cost of between £5 billion and £9 billion – ‘a fraction of the cost of expansion at Heathrow’ – and could be operational by 2025.

‘London is the best-connected city in the world today because the UK’s aviation industry is one of the most competitive and innovative. Our evidence shows clearly that an additional runway at Gatwick would best serve the needs of all passengers, and give certainty to airlines, communities and businesses. It would deliver the connectivity the UK needs with lower environmental impacts, whilst spreading the economic benefits,’ Wingate said.

‘A two-runway Gatwick, as part of a constellation of three major airports surrounding London, will also provide flexibility in an industry where the only constant is change,’ he added.

Several options are under consideration to increase aviation capacity, including the expansion of Gatwick in West Sussex, the expansion of Heathrow, the building of a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary and better use of existing regional airports across the South East. Heathrow proposed its own expansion plans last week with the promise to deliver extra capacity for between £14 billion and £18 billion.

Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said the authority has supported the Gatwick expansion because of the ‘huge potential economic benefits’ for the county.

‘We want to work with Gatwick, residents and partners to ensure that any development will take into account the environmental concerns that people rightly have, and include all of the essential infrastructure that a development of this scale would require,’ she added.

The Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, is set to present an interim report covering the need for extra capacity and also a shortlist of potential options and sites. The report is due to be published by the end of the year, and final recommendations are expected after the next general election in the summer of 2015.