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Following a 12-week public consultation, Gatwick airport has released its final master plan, which includes its intention to use its standby runway for departures by the mid-2020s.
The airport claims the consultation showed two-thirds of respondents support its growth, which also includes the use of technology to make the best use of its existing runway.
Under the plans, Gatwick will submit an application to bring its standby runway – which is currently only used in emergencies – into regular use for departing flights only. The airport says this will be done through a Development Consent Order (DCO), which will include a public consultation next year to allow local authorities, communities, businesses and partners the opportunity to weigh in on the scheme.
Contrary to claims by the Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) group, the airport says it is not pursuing a third runway at this time but will continue to recommend that national and local planning policy safeguards land should a new runway be required in the future, as has been done since 2003.
Gatwick says it aims to achieve its growth in a sustainable way without much impact on its noise footprint – thanks to the use of quieter aircraft by carriers operating at the airport – and without the use of government funding or the need to buy residential properties to make way for expansion.
CEO Stewart Wingate said: “The plans would deliver additional capacity for Gatwick, which will provide choices for the future – including incrementally growing our airport to meet demand and continuing to provide solid operational performance for passengers and airlines. This would be the biggest private investment for the region in the coming years, which would result in significant local economic benefits, including new jobs for the area. Gatwick’s global connections are needed more than ever but as we take our plans forward we must do so in the most sustainable and responsible way and in full partnership with our local councils, communities, passengers and partners.”
But CAGNE continues to claim the airport is attempting to get a second runway “by stealth”. A spokesperson for the group said: “To use the emergency runway alongside the main runway is in effect a second runway, as it will have to be moved by some 12 metres to allow it to be used. As such it is a second runway without the full parliamentary scrutiny or any funding for our roads or railway line that will see a huge increase in passenger and worker numbers migrating into Gatwick.”
CAGNE also said the airport’s management “clearly ignore the current mood of the UK population” in relation to carbon emissions and that “any saving of CO2 by modern planes will now be lost due to the desire for commercial gain” by Gatwick’s new owner, the Vinci Group.
Meanwhile, the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) claims Vinci has “shown immediate disregard for their local community neighbours” with its plans, which it says “will damage and blight the lives of thousands of residents surrounding the airport”.
GACC chairman Peter Barclay commented: “Despite communities already rejecting the draft master plan in November last year, GAL [Gatwick Airport Limited] continues to push for unsustainable growth. GACC and other local community groups have met and unanimously agreed to challenge these proposals as robustly as possible. In a world that is fast recognising aviation’s negative impact on health through noise impacts and air pollution, together with its contribution to climate change, GAL and the aviation industry ignore these impacts and blindly steamroller their unsustainable demands forward.”
Read the full master plan here