New figures show air quality at Gatwick improving and well within legal limits


  • 'Air quality more relevant to the expansion debate than ever before' - Wingate 
  • Air quality at Gatwick – already within legal limits - has improved further, according to new report published today

The 'Decade of Change' report tracks Gatwick’s progress on a series of environmental targets and shows that annual nitrogen dioxide levels at Gatwick fell from 32 to 31 micrograms per cubic metre in 2014 - well below the legal limit of 40. 

Gatwick CEO, Stewart Wingate, said:

“Today’s positive figures are further proof that Gatwick expansion can be delivered lawfully. Gatwick has operated within legal air quality limits for more than a decade and can guarantee that it will continue to meet these legal limits even with a second runway.

“Air quality is more relevant to the expansion debate than it has ever been. Illegal air quality has stopped expansion at Heathrow in the past. Given it is even worse today than ever it is hard to see how expansion could legally go ahead there with millions more car journeys - yet alone all the construction traffic. '

Taking forward an airport expansion scheme that results in air quality limits being exceeded - or their attainment being delayed - would be in breach of EU and UK law.

Gatwick has never breached these legal air quality limits and has guaranteed to maintain this 100% record if it built a second runway – something it can do as it is located in a more sparsely populated area and also has one of the cleanest aircraft fleets in Europe.

The Decade of Change report also shows that Gatwick is using less water, electricity and gas, and that more passengers are using public transport to get to the airport.  Gatwick’s directly controlled carbon emissions also remained steady last year despite an 8% increase in passenger numbers – keeping the airport on track to achieve its goal of reducing these carbon emissions by 50% by 2020. 


In April 2002, an independent air quality management area (AQMA) was established in the vicinity of Gatwick Airport, based on the UK Government’s 2005 annual average nitrogen dioxide (NO2) objective of 40 μg m-3. This objective became a European legal limit in 2010 and since the creation of the AQMA in 2002, this limit has not been exceeded.

Specific environmental improvements Gatwick achieved in 2014 include: 

  • reducing electricity consumption by 2.2%, and the amount of gas consumed by almost a quarter (22%) or 14,210,763 kWh
  • reducing water consumption by 6.5% or 45838 m3 – equivalent to over 18 Olympic sized swimming pools
  • encouraged 43% of passengers to use public transport to get to the airport - with more people taking the train than any other UK airport
  • recording no noise infringements for three consecutive years.

The improvements have been achieved by adopting a wide range of proactive measures, including by: using one of the cleanest aircraft fleets in Europe

  • employing single engine taxiing to reduce fuel burn and emissions
  • sourcing all power from Haven Drax power station which generates energy by using renewable sources only
  • repairing water leaks quickly
  • building a new rail platform to increase rail capacity at Gatwick.


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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