Heathrow and Gatwick airports will this week submit revised plans in a bid to secure backing for the expansion of a new runway.
Heathrow said its £17 billion third runway would boost the UK economy by £100 billion and create around 100,000 jobs.
Gatwick’s plans are considerably cheaper at £7.8 billion and claim it’s the only option that will help bring down fares.
The plans will be presented this week to the Airports Commission - the government appointed body tasked with recommending which airport should have a new runway by 2030.
The recommendation will not be made until 2015 after the next general election.
Heathrow said its revised plans for a £17 billion third runway to the north-west of its existing site would bring around £100 billion worth of benefits to the UK economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs across the country. The runway would run over the M25 with the motorway being placed in a tunnel.
As part of its plan Heathrow has allocated £550 million for noise insulation and property compensation to local people. Residents would be offered 25 per cent above market value plus stamp duty costs and all legal fees, in relation to purchasing a new home. Under the new proposal around 750 homes would need to be compulsorily purchased.
The airport has also proposed a car congestion charge for people travelling to the airport. Heathrow said a charge would reduce traffic congestion levels and improve air quality for local communities, while raising money for public transport improvements.
Heathrow’s new CEO John Holland-Kaye, who replaces the outgoing Colin Matthews in July, told the BBC that Heathrow is the only airport that can help the UK compete with other countries in Europe.
“The real competition is not between Heathrow and Gatwick but between Britain, France and Germany, and Heathrow is the only airport that can win that,” he said.
Gatwick will submit its 3,200 page proposal tomorrow (May 14) in which it will claim Gatwick is the “obvious solution” to meeting the UK’s need for airport expansion.
The airport has calculated it would cost £7.8 billion to build a second runway by 2025, and that the additional infrastructure should result in airport landing charges about one-third of those at Heathrow.
The airport claims a second runway at Gatwick will ensure the UK economy is better off by up to £30 billion over the next 30 years. It would also result in lower fares, greater efficiency and innovation and create more than 120,000 jobs.
Gatwick said the alternative is “returning to a market with one dominant player where passengers will end up paying more for less choice and less convenience”.
Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “As we reach this critical point in the aviation debate it is clear the Airports Commission has a very real choice to make: expand Gatwick and create genuine competition in the market with lower fares for everyone, or move back to a London airport market dominated by a single player and saddle the next generation with higher air fares.
“Why would you choose to fly a quarter of a million more planes every year over one of the world’s most densely populated cities when instead you can fly them mostly over fields? Why tunnel part of the busiest motorway in Europe – the M25 – causing serious traffic disruption, when you can build on land already set aside for expansion?
“The choice is an obvious one. Expand the best and only deliverable option – Gatwick – and create a market that serves everyone.”
Read an analysis of Davies commission’s interim report of UK airports