Mayday! Gatwick mulls using emergency runway to boost capacity

Lloyd Doyle
October 21, 2018

Gatwick bosses say the conversion of the runway to full use would meet all global safety requirements and not increase the airport's noise footprint.

In a draft masterplan revealed by Gatwick bosses today, it is proposed to use the emergency standby runway - only now used when the main runway is closed for emergencies or maintenance - for 'routine use'.

However Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said the proposed use of the existing standby runway would not increase airport noise and would meet all worldwide safety requirements, If it progresses the plan, a detailed planning proposal would be submitted.

At present, the main runway and standby runway are just 198 metres apart, 12 metres too close to satisfy official guidelines set down by The International Civil Aviation Organization.

The pledge comes as Gatwick Airport today unveils long-awaited details on proposals to increase passenger capacity after its bid for a new runway was rejected - with MPs overwhelmingly backing a third runway at Heathrow earlier this year.

Bringing the emergency runway online is expected to provide an "incremental increase" in capacity, Gatwick said.

Sally Pavey, chair of Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, known as CAGNE, said: "This is totally underhand, a stab in the heart for residents that thought they could get on with their lives after the runway debate was won by Heathrow Airport".

Among the options on the table is the routine use of the current standby runway, a suggestion which has angered local residents and environmental campaigners. It would also create new noise problems as well as putting extra pressure on local transport links, they added.

Should the airport decide to further progress the use of the existing standby runway, it would submit a detailed planning proposal and follow a Development Consent Order (DCO) process, which would include a full public consultation.

Meanwhile, the CEO of Gatwick Airpot, Stewart Wingate, said if plans go ahead, it wouldn't come into operation until 2025.

Launching a 12-week public consultation, he said; "It is important that everyone has their say, so we look forward to hearing the views of our local communities, partners and stakeholders".

He said: "Our draft master plan marks the start of a new phase for Gatwick, building on what has made the airport the success it is today, and pioneering again to take advantage of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead".

The Chief Executive Officer at London Gatwick, Stewart Wingate, said in a statement Thursday that with the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union, global connections are "needed more than ever", before adding that bringing the standby runway into routine use would unlock "much-needed new capacity".

She said: "Now more than ever, unlocking new aviation capacity to deliver global trade links is critical for a strong United Kingdom economy".

"The local authorities, the people we elected, need to think hard before supporting Gatwick's plans", CAGNE said in a statement. "This will help shape our plans for securing the region's prosperity".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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