Decision Time: Greener Gatwick or Superhub Heathrow?
Posted: 12 October 2016 | Roy Manuell, Digital Content Producer | No comments yet
Days away from a decision as to whether to allow either Gatwick or Heathrow permission to build an additional runway, we take one final look at both sides of the coin…
On the eve of the government’s decision as to whether to allow either Gatwick or Heathrow permission to build an additional runway, International Airport Review provides you with a final opportunity to decide…
Green Gatwick or Superhub Heathrow?
Gatwick has come out all guns blazing over the past week as the decision is thought to be just days away, asserting that Heathrow’s bid is inherently illegal due to pollution problems. Even without a third runway, the Sussex airport claims that Heathrow is breaking legal air limits due to its current relationship with NO2 emissions, suggesting that 19 of 26 separate monitoring sites around Heathrow are up to 162% above legal NO2 limits.
It is thought however, that the Prime Minister will ignore environmental arguments and select Heathrow as her choice – the best economic decision in her eyes for the country – creating a superhub that will only increase its status as Europe’s busiest airport by almost 10 million annual passengers. Operating at 99% of its current capacity, and in light of the Davies Report that was unequivocal in its call for an additional runway to be built, many see Heathrow as the obvious choice.
In the wake of Brexit, Theresa May needs to be seen as attracting expansion, development and investment into the UK…
Once again, the perennial underdog in the great runway debate, Gatwick, came back biting, slating the Airports Commission behind 2015’s Davies Report that severely undervalued Gatwick’s capacity for growth, proven by both passenger figures and subsequent route development. Gatwick has comfortably exceeded the Commission’s expectations, welcoming over 40 million passengers in 2016 – a figure the report suggested would not be possible before 2030 as well as over 50 long haul services with the recent additions of Cape Town and Moscow – not forecast until 2050.
By far the largest single runway airport in the world – almost double the size of its nearest rival – Chief Executive Stewart Wingate boasted that the airport “has demonstrated that it can deliver all of the economic benefits at a dramatically lower environmental impact.”
It’s hard to disagree as proven by today’s announcement in partnership with Bluecity that Gatwick will roll out first 100% electric car sharing service at a UK airport, the latest in a string of environmentally-friendly measures the airport has taken to mitigate the impact of its growth on our beautiful planet.
Consequently, in a YouGov poll earlier this week, Londoners came out in favour of the Sussex airport (43%-36%), chiefly concerned about environmental impact and in anticipation of a ClientEarth legal case on air quality to take place next week against the government with respect to air pollution. Their preference is echoed by their Mayor, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, a strong advocate of Gatwick as the only choice for the UK.
And how about the cost?
Gatwick bosses believe that a second runway could be constructed for a fraction of the predicted £18 billion cost for a third at Heathrow, as estimated by the Airports Commission. Furthermore, a moratorium on a second runway at Gatwick expires in 2019, and it could be completed by 2025 – most-likely ahead of a third runway at Heathrow.
“Gatwick can deliver all of the economic benefits at a dramatically lower environmental impact.”
That said, what might be seen as the final nail in the coffin for Gatwick’s attractive proposal was an announcement earlier this week by the Scottish Government that it would be in favour of an additional runway at Heathrow. It is perhaps no coincidence that the airport has plans to heavily invest in Scotland, claiming the creation of up to 16,000 new jobs as well as a £200m of construction-related spend in Scotland during planning and construction.
While it looks likely to be granted to Heathrow, Gatwick has claimed that Prime Minister May would not dare deny them permission to independently build a new runway, irrespective of the impending decision.
In the wake of Brexit, Theresa May needs to be seen as attracting expansion, development and investment into the UK and Gatwick, often encouraging criticism, is renowned for using external foreign investment for its development as opposed to Heathrow which often sources from the UK.
Whatever happens over the next few days, here at International Airport Review we support a strong decision as soon as possible in favour of either airport. London’s airports are buckling under the pressure and the UK economy is losing billions every year due to inaction as to where to expand and resolve the issue.
Perhaps an additional runway at both would be best?
However, sustainable development is key and a look to the environment from the UK government whichever way it eventually leans is extremely important.
Britain used to be known for a responsible approach to the environment. Let’s try and keep it that way…
Here’s a link to our infographic, that presents you with the cold, hard facts surrounding the great runway debate…