Gatwick Airport's application for additional runway advances to examination phase.

Key Points:

  • Gatwick Airport's application to utilize its northern emergency runway for regular operations has been accepted by the planning inspectorate.

  • The decision has incited public outrage, with concerns expressed over potential issues such as noise pollution, air quality, and congestion.

  • If the expansion plan is ratified, the new runway, operational by the end of the decade, will create approximately 14,000 new jobs and cost £2.2bn.

LONDON — Planning authorities have greenlit Gatwick Airport's proposal to integrate its emergency runway into regular use. The approval propels the application into the examination phase, a crucial step in the airport's expansion strategy.

The north runway of the West Sussex airport, currently serving as a taxiway or secondary runway during main runway closure, has been the subject of significant controversy. Despite this, planning officers have moved forward with the initiative submitted by the airport last month.

Several locals and stakeholders have aired their dismay over the acceptance of the application. Prior apprehensions about noise pollution, air quality degradation, and traffic congestion were cited as prime factors for the unrest.

As the chief planning officer of Gatwick Airport, Tim Norwood, expressed his awareness of these concerns. "In the following weeks, the airport will communicate with residents and other stakeholders about how they can partake in the examination stage of the planning process. We encourage them to submit comments and provide feedback on our crucial proposals," Norwood stated.

If approved, Gatwick's £2.2bn plan would stimulate the creation of roughly 14,000 new jobs. However, the runway construction, slated to commence in 2025, will only cater to departures, according to the airport's announcement.

The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), along with local authorities and area MPs, have firmly opposed the runway proposal. "We find it disheartening that the Planning Inspectorate accepted the Gatwick application despite robust objections and concerns about the original consultation's quality," the GACC commented, adding, "We cannot see any rational government approving this application."

The final decision on the runway expansion plan is anticipated by the end of 2024. If ratified, the secondary runway is expected to be operational by the decade's end.