New Gatwick runway could help avoid need for further Heathrow expansion  

A second runway at Gatwick combined with an extra runway at Stansted could avoid the need for a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow.

The Department for Transport's consultation document on proposals for increasing runway capacity in the South East shows that Gatwick could accommodate between 15 and 36 million extra passengers every year on top of its current forecast capacity.

The number of people affected by aircraft noise at Gatwick is around 8,600. This compares to 307,000 in those parts of south and west London and the Home Counties which fall under the Heathrow flight path.

The council is holding a public meeting on Monday October 28 at All Saints Church, Putney Common (starting at 7.30pm) for Wandsworth residents concerned about the environmental impact of a third Heathrow runway.

The Government says it ruled out an extra runway at Gatwick because of the restrictions imposed by a 1979 legal agreement with West Sussex County Council. This prevents further development before 2019.

Now Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister, who will be joined on the platform at Monday's event by HACAN chairman John Stewart, is backing calls for the agreement to be renegotiated.

"It makes no sense to break the limits on flight numbers at Heathrow barely a year after they were set as a condition of Terminal Five going ahead - and at the same time declare a 23 year-old Gatwick agreement sacrosanct. It was also a condition of the Terminal Five decision that no new areas around Heathrow should suffer noise levels above agreed limits. This undertaking too will be broken by a third runway.

"It is hard to understand the logic of the Government's position. Why else did civil servants spend two years researching capacity issues at Gatwick if ministers did not see the airport as a serious alternative to yet further growth at Heathrow? Many of us will raise the prospect of expansion at Gatwick with a heavy heart because living in south London we know the environmental impact of living under the flight path. But the scale of the environmental damage that a third runway at Heathrow would bring is out of all proportion to the relatively small numbers affected at Gatwick.

"This is not a 'nimby' position. Aircraft noise, traffic congestion and nitrogen dioxide pollution is a reality already in south and west London. We have a right to say no more damage to our quality of life and ministers have a duty not to rule out any option that would save us from the third runway nightmare."

The current limit of 485,000 flights year at Heathrow was imposed only last year by the inspector who presided over the Terminal Five inquiry. A third runway would push this figure up to 655,000.

A third Heathrow runway could mean extra noise misery for thousands of local residents living under the flight path in Putney as bigger planes are switched to the existing two runways to allow smaller aircraft to land at the new shorter runway.

Kent councils opposed to the proposed 24 hour airport at Cliffe have launched a judicial review of the Government's decision to rule out Gatwick.

An extra runway at the West Sussex airport has also been backed by local councils in the area who fear the airport will decline if Heathrow continues to expand.

The council's fact sheet on the third runway 'More flights, More noise, More congestion' is available on

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22nd October 2002


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