It is time, once again, for a conversation about additional runways at London airports. With the third runway at Heathrow stalled, Gatwick is pushing to activate its shorter North runway for departures, boosting capacity and reducing congestion at the airport. Community consultations are slated to begin in two weeks.
Key to the effort is relocation of the northern runway centerline. By moving it 12 meters to the north the pair of runways will meet international regulations for parallel departure operations.
The new runway would only be used for departures by smaller planes, according to airport authorities. All arrivals would continue to use the southern runway, as would larger aircraft departures.
With the new runway in service airport authorities believe Gatwick can accommodate just over 75 million passengers per year. That is a 20% increase over the current 62.4 million operating capacity.
Gatwick also proposes to add a new pier to one of the terminals and various roadway improvements to help accommodate the additional traffic the runway would facilitate.
The expansion plan is likely to face opposition on several fronts. Noise concerns from local residents are virtually assured. So are environmental objections. And, even after the local consultations, the work must also receive approval from the federal government.
Countering those objections, the airport highlights the economic value it brings to the community. Among the stats offered is an estimated £8.4bn contribution for the South East UK by 2028, a number the group describes as “the same as 50,000 jobs or 70,000 nurses.”
Such approvals are far from certain, but for the next few months there will be a lot of discussion pushing in that direction.
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