London Gatwick Airport to use EMERGENCY runway for PASSENGER planes

Gatwick Airport aerial view

Gatwick Airport aerial view

Canada's biggest pension fund is preparing to swoop for part of a stake in London's Gatwick Airport that could be worth more than £3bn - days after it unveiled a plan to use its emergency runway to boost capacity.

The draft masterplan suggests using the standby track into routine use for departing flights by the mid 2020s.

However Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said the proposed use of the existing standby runway would not increase airport noise and would meet all global safety requirements, If it progresses the plan, a detailed planning proposal would be submitted.

According to a report in The Times the plan would be to move the standby runway 12 metres to the north at a cost of up to £500 million, allowing it to handle up to 50,000 extra flights per year.

The second involves adapting the stand-by runway for routine flight use, and the third involves building a second runway.

This, however, is not the same plan that saw the airport battle Heathrow for the right to build an entirely new runway.

The campaigners also say using the emergency runway in conjunction with the main runway could mean a 20 - 30% increase in flights over the very communities which now have no respite 24/7 from aircraft noise.

The plans would see the number of passengers going through the airport rise to around 60 million by 2032.

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The centre lines of Gatwick's main and emergency runways are now separated by 198 metres.

Anti expansion campaigner Sally Pavey, who lives near Horsham and spearheads the group Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions, said: "This is simply betrayal of communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent who have already endured the increases in longhaul movements this year by 24.1 per cent - this is a second runway by the backdoor".

This would open just months before Heathrow's third runway is due to open.

"The local authorities, the people we elected, need to think hard before supporting Gatwick's plans as to agree to this, or the safeguarding of land for a second runway, would continue to ignore the environmental impacts locally and national that Gatwick creates".

"As the United Kingdom heads towards an important new chapter, Gatwick's growing global connections are needed more than ever".

"The local authorities pick up the bill for the now crumbling infrastructure whilst Gatwick continues to seek to clog further with 50m passengers off a single runway". The mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: "I've always been clear that the south-east needs additional airport capacity and that this could be delivered quicker and more cheaply at Gatwick, without the same impact a new runway at Heathrow would have".

Gatwick said that it is still in the early stages of exploring "the innovative development" - which would require full public consultation - but says that it would be delivered "without increasing the airport's noise footprint and provide greater operational resilience". "This will help shape our plans for securing the region's prosperity".

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