Members of the public have been given extra time to have their say about Gatwick’s expansion plans, which could double the airport’s size.
Gatwick wants to spend £ 2.2 billion to upgrade an existing backup runway, which would allow many more daytime flights. The Airport says night flights would not increase.
Campaigners against the Gatwick’s new runway say it would worsen noise for residents in West Kent and is incompatible with efforts to combat climate change.
Although the planning process has yet to hear evidence, the planning inspectorate has set a new deadline of 11.59pm on Sunday 19th November 2023 for the public to register in order to be allowed to make comments. More time was given after a fault caused the submissions website to close a day earlier than the original deadline of 29th October.
Two links for registration are below:
Gatwick’s Northern Runway is currently limited to acting as a taxiway, only available when the main runway is out of use. The planning application proposes repositioning the centre line of the Northern Runway 12 metres north to allow dual runway operations, boosting flight capacity.
Campaigner Charles Lloyd (below) who lives in Penshurst says aircraft noise impacts many people in the area: “Lots of people are very deeply affected by it in terms of their quality of life. They’re affected in terms of their health”.
Charles Lloyd continues: “If you are woken up at night there is very strong medical evidence that it has an effect on your physical health, coronary issues and on your productivity the next day at work.”
Charles Lloyd says new green technology for planes is still unproven: “There’s a flight of fantasy approach being put forward by both the government and Gatwick that says we think we can decarbonise, we don’t know how, but we are going to assume that we can, and we will allow potentially airport expansion on that basis.”
Charles Lloyd concludes: “35 per cent more aircraft in the sky, means 35 per cent more noise. Aircraft are getting less noisy, but very very very slowly. So there would be a significant impact on anyone who lives underneath the Gatwick flight path for many many years into the future.”
By contrast Gatwick’s Head of Noise and Airspace Strategy, Andy Sinclair (below) says the airport’s plans will have major economic benefits, creating around 14,000 new jobs and injecting £1 billion into the region’s economy every year.
Andy Sinclair says: “There are no new flight paths required as a result of this project. There would initially, of course, be an increase in noise but we have made a commitment…that 9 years after opening (the new runway), the airport would be quieter than it was in 2019.”
Andy Sinclair continues: “During the night period there are current government restrictions that cap the number of night flights. We have never asked for more flights in the night period and don’t intend to ask for more night flights, so the increase in flights would be during the 16 hours of the rest of the day.”
Andy Sinclair says planes are getting quieter: “In the 5 years pre-covid, the traffic grew by 6.3 % but at the same time noise was reduced by 9.6%. Traffic can grow and noise can reduce.”
Air travel is currently one of the lightest taxed sectors in the economy (there is no duty on airline fuel, while UK drivers pay significant duties on petrol and diesel), but Andy Sinclair doesn’t see a risk that future air travel demand will be constrained by governments imposing higher taxes on air travel.
Andy Sinclair points out that the UK government’s climate plan for net zero emissions by 2050 did include airport expansion. He also says Gatwick Airport will spend £250 million in capital investment to achieve net zero at the airport by 2030.
You can hear much more from campaigner Charles Lloyd and Gatwick’s Andy Sinclair in the latest episode of the podcast “West Kent Talking” which is available on all podcast platforms…or click below:
Gatwick airport carried nearly 47 million passengers in its peak pre-covid year of 2019. That fell to 33 million passengers last year, but Gatwick wants to carry around 75 million passengers a year by the late 2030s.
There is more information from Gatwick Airport and campaigners on the links below.