‘Gatwick already has an extra runway so why build another at Heathrow?’ asks council leader
Published: Thursday 1st November 18
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia says the news that Gatwick Airport could use an existing reserve runway that’s already built and could be made operational quickly within days, highlights the “sheer folly” of building a third runway at Heathrow.
With both airports vying to provide additional capacity, and strong opposition to any further expansion at Heathrow, it has emerged that Gatwick may soon seek permission to operate a little used runway that already exists.
Gatwick has a standby runway which it uses as a back-up when its main runway is out of action. A planning condition dating back 40 years prohibits its routine use stipulating it can only be used when the main one is closed due to maintenance or emergencies.
This planning condition expires next year and there are indications that Gatwick will seek permission from the Government to begin operating it as a second runway.
Utilising the runway at Gatwick could mean fewer flights over Londoner's homes
This would hugely increase airport capacity in the south east at a tiny fraction of the cost of building another unwanted runway at Heathrow.
It is estimated that Heathrow’s expansion plans would cost around £12 billion. It would involve the demolition of approximately 1,000 homes in the surrounding area and require the M25 motorway to be diverted through a tunnel of around three miles in length.
It would mean an additional 260,000 flights over London every year along with an estimated 25 million more vehicle movements. Heathrow already breaches air quality laws and adding this number of extra flights and vehicle journeys would create even more serious health problems for Londoners.
It would mean more noise nuisance for millions of people that live under the existing flightpaths – and expose many more people to intrusive aircraft noise for the first time.
'Why build an extra runway at Heathrow when one already exists at Gatwick?'
In contrast, utilising the second runway at Gatwick would have less of an environmental impact and retain noise levels within its existing footprint.
Cllr Govindia said: “This is the ultimate no-brainer. The Government wants an extra runway in the south east and here is one that’s already built that could be brought into full use at minimum cost. and at almost a moment’s notice.
“No-one in their right minds could possibly argue that it would be better to spend £12bn on yet another Heathrow runway that will take years to build, involve the destruction of many small communities, the loss of people‘s homes and businesses, huge increases in noise disturbance and incredibly harmful reductions in air quality.
“Heathrow is already the busiest airport in Europe and brings in more flights over built-up areas than any other European airport. There can be no justification for making it more intrusive when an affordable and easy alternative already exists at Gatwick.”