Gatwick passes Labour’s ‘Four Tests’ with flying colours


  • Gatwick’s second runway plan passes Labour’s four tests for expansion
  • Not only that, Gatwick’s plan is simpler, faster, cheaper, and quieter 
  • Gatwick will deliver the economic boost at a fraction of the environmental impact

Gatwick Airport today outlined how it passes all four tests that the Labour Party announced it would use to assess airport expansion plans at its conference this week.

1. Does the proposed scheme actually grow capacity?


The Airports Commission’s own numbers suggest that both schemes deliver broadly the same connectivity for the UK as a whole. Gatwick is the most efficient operator of individual runway capacity in the world, serving over 40 million passengers per year from a single runway. Our figures suggest that with two runways our capacity could increase to 90 million passengers, or 15 million more than are presently served by a two runway Heathrow.


2. Does the proposed scheme meet the UK’s overall climate change obligations?


The Airports Commission concluded that the UK could add one new runway in the South East and still meet its climate change obligations. Within these parameters expansion at Gatwick offers a superior solution to expansion at Heathrow because it allows for more direct connections to destinations around the world, thereby reducing the need for connections involving multiple take-offs (when most fuel is burned) and because it allows for more passengers to travel from their local airport, thereby reducing the overall length and carbon footprint of a passenger journey.


Finally, Gatwick’s modal share of passengers arriving by public transport, rather than by car, is anticipated to increase to 60%, at least 10% better than the anticipated number at Heathrow.


3. What are the local environmental impacts in respect of noise and air quality?


Gatwick’s noise impact presently affects 18,000 people, some 3% of the noise impact of Heathrow. With expansion at Gatwick, the total number of people newly affected by noise will be only 22,000 people, so Gatwick’s noise impact will remain 5% of that of Heathrow.


Heathrow’s expansion will increase its noise impact on 320,000 people, relative to maintaining the status quo. Put another way, the number of people affected by noise at Gatwick and Heathrow combined will be 493,000 in 2040 if Gatwick were to expand, compared to 846,000 if Heathrow were to expand.


Gatwick has not breached air quality standards and has guaranteed it will not in the future, even with a new runway. Air quality around Gatwick is actually improving. The area around Heathrow exceeds legal limits in respect of air quality now. Five years of construction impact and millions more passenger journeys by road can only worsen the air quality around the airport


4. The benefits of expansion must be national, not just for London


Gatwick’s expansion delivers connectivity for the whole country and delivers important benefits to the South East outside London, rebalancing economic activity away from the overheated corridor west of London.


Equally importantly, it offers regions to the north of London the chance to benefit from establishing direct connectivity with trading partners all over the world, from Birmingham, from Manchester, and from Scotland.


Gatwick’s plans offer the prospect of cheaper travel to all passengers in the UK, leisure and business alike, delivered sooner and with less environmental impact to the nation as a whole.


Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate said:


“Gatwick’s plan does not just meet the four tests set out by Labour, it passes each with flying colours. By any measure, Gatwick’s plan impacts fewer people by noise, will not result in breaches of air quality laws, and is wholly consistent with the UK’s climate change obligations.


“Put this together with increases in capacity and passenger numbers and the clear boost that Gatwick expansion will bring across the UK, and it is clear that the only runway plan that can actually be delivered is also the best option.”




About London Gatwick

Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world. It serves more than 228 destinations in 74 countries for 45 million passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the UK contributing £5.3 billion to national GDP and generating 85,000 jobs nationally, with around 24,000 on the wider airport campus alone. The airport is south of Central London with excellent public transport links, including the Gatwick Express, and is part of the Oyster contactless payment network. Gatwick Airport is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.

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