Gatwick Airport’s bid to double its capacity to 78 million passengers and effectively create a second Heathrow will cause a “bigger impact locally than Horse Hill” oil drilling, a local councillor has claimed.
The international airport submitted plans to the Planning Inspectorate last week (July 6) for a second runway, in which its CEO Stewart Wingate said the proposal is vital to its the long-term future and economic prosperity.
Opponents in Surrey impacted by the plan say airports cannot be expanded at the same time as trying to hit net zero carbon emission targets – and campaigners have so far raised more than £5,000 to launch a fight against the airport through the courts.
Jonathan Essex, Surrey County Councillor (Redhill East, Green Party) urged inspectors to listen to the Government’s climate scientists and told the LDRS: “This is a big deal. This blows Horse Hill out of the ground and it will make a bigger impact locally. This expansion will mean 100,000 extra flights and a million tonnes of extra carbon. If you accept you need to deal with climate change and we need to do it now, you need to stop expanding airports.”
The existing northern runway is mostly used as a taxiway and the application proposes repositioning it 12 metres north to allow dual runway operations – like Heathrow.
According to Gatwick’s website, operating as a two-runway airport would “unlock new capacity and allow for a more efficient and resilient operation. If approved the £2.2 billion privately financed plan would be one of the largest capital investment projects in the region for decades. And it would help the airport meet future passenger demand by serving around 75 million passengers a year by the late 2030s.”
Gatwick Airport currently serves 32.8million passengers. Heathrow is used by between 70 and 78 million people.
Sally Pavey, chairperson of the Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions group said it is crowdfunding for a long legal battle as they didn’t believe planners would reject the application. “This benefits Gatwick, there are very few for the local communities. Gatwick is saying it will bring jobs and economic benefits but aviation and low-cost airlines are going towards automation. The jobs are decreasing.
“People really need to wake up to the fact that this is a second runway through the back door. It really slaps in the face of what we are all trying to do which is to cut our carbon footprints.”
According to the airport an expanded airport would ‘boost’ the region’s economy by £1billion and generate 14,000 new jobs.
The proposals also feature infrastructure work to improve the main access routes to the airport, but campaigners said the wider impact on the smaller roads would be huge.
Gatwick Airport chief Mr Wingate said: “The northern runway plan will help secure the long-term future of the airport and economic prosperity for thousands of families, businesses, and future generations across the region. If approved, our plan will also improve airport resilience, meet future passenger demand, and increase competition in the London airport market, by providing vital new international connections to support ‘Global Britain’.
“The consultation and engagement activity over the past two years has been hugely valuable in shaping our plans to ensure they best meet the needs and requirements of local people, as well as our airlines, passengers and other stakeholders. We are confident that our plans are both economically and environmentally robust.”
Applications of national importance are dealt with by planning inspectors and signed off by the relevant government departments. Construction could start in 2025 and be ready for operational use by the end of the decade, the airport said.
Image: Mike McBey – Gatwick Airport CC BY 2.0