Gatwick Airport is going through the motions two-fold. Firstly, they have just completed the second consultation on rebuilding the emergency runway as a second runway. For years Gatwick has been happy to boast it was the busiest single runway in the world, but not content in 2019 they launched a Master Plan for a 3-runway airport.
This was much to the horror of local communities and environmentalists such as CAGNE, the umbrella aviation community and environment group for Sussex, Surrey, and Kent.
Gatwick is progressing a planning process, Development Consent Order, to achieve a northern runway but they have yet to submit a formal application to the Planning Inspectorate so there is still much to play for. With 2 runways Gatwick seeks an increase to 75.6m passengers a year by 2038 and 80.2m by 2047 (from 46.6m pre-Covid) plus workers and freight all trying to reach the airport, so that is a 70% increase in passengers and 35% increase in flight numbers.
The legally binding noise envelope that is offered does not go out far enough from the airport to capture those that already complain of aircraft noise, (51 decibel day and night 45 decibel noise contour), and the modernisation of airspace is not a consideration.
Night flights are not set to reduce with 2 runways and there is no guarantee that additional flights are not sought. Another government consultation will take place on this subject next year (11,200 flights are permitted during the summer schedule and 3,250 in the winter plus dispensations).
The second element of growth Gatwick seeks is to grow the capacity on the single runway with the modernisation of airspace. This is known as FASIS (Future Airspace Strategy Implementation South), an initiative supported by the government. The aim is to make best use of the airspace, but for many this could mean new flight paths over new communities to achieve this growth with no compensation for loss of house value and quality of life.
To ensure you are kept up to date on the Gatwick Airport’s progress, you should join the mailing list of CAGNE at www.cagne.org, and you should share your views with your local elected member to ensure they are representing you.