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Everything You Need To Know About The Heathrow/Gatwick Runway Debate

The first thing you should know about the Heathrow/Gatwick runway debate, if you don’t already, is that it has been going on for a long time.

In November 2012 the British Government set up the Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, to look into the future of UK air travel and the lack of capacity in the South East.

In simple terms, a decision is being made whether to expand Heathrow (LHR) or Gatwick (LGW), and the final outcome keeps being pushed back, as either side argue their case – both for and against.

So, let’s go back to the beginning and look at what plans have been proposed…

Heathrow: A brand new 3,500m runway, about two miles north of the two existing runways, at an estimated cost of £18.6bn OR doubling the size of the existing northern runway at a cost of £13.5bn, this however was said to be less adventageous by the Airports Commission.

Gatwick: Building a new runway, at least 3,000m long, at a cost of £9.3bn. This would be constructed far enough away from the existing runway to allow for fully independent operation.

Does there need to be an expansion at all?

In short, yes. This is primarily due to the huge amounts of people booking flights, whether it is for a weekend mini-break or buying a one way ticket to the other side of the world, putting their lives into storage just outside the airport.

Heathrow, the UK’s only hub airport, has been operating at 98% of capacity for more than a decade and Gatwick is also approaching its limits.

What is happening now?

In July 2015 it looked like Heathrow was getting the go-ahead – but by December there was another delay. A decision was finally due to be made in summer 2016. That was until Brexit happened.

Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU and the turmoil that has come with it, there has been a further delay until ‘at least October.’

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye said to the BBC, “Expansion must be a key building block in the government’s Brexit plan. It will allow British exporters to trade with all the growing markets of the world, strengthening Britain’s position as one of the great trading nations. And at a time of uncertainty, a £16bn privately funded infrastructure investment will create jobs and growth across the UK”.

Should Heathrow be expanded and what impact will it have?

A third runway for Heathrow is predicted to create the most jobs and make the most money for the country, including a knock-on effect for businesses in the area. However, the airport would also become the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country and noise pollution would be even worse for those living under the flight path – with some homes even being demolished.

This would also come at a cost of £5.7bn to the taxpayer and there may be extra costs to passengers as the airport charges airlines more to land, to help with costs.

But don’t rule out Gatwick just yet, because the debate is ongoing and anything can happen.

One thing we can be sure of is that even when a decision has been made, the arguments will be far from over – as discussions continue in to how to implement these changes with as little negative impact as possible.

© by Naomi Webb

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