Gatwick campaign questions Sir Howard’s claim that a new runway is needed
At a meeting on 7th October, Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, gave a speech concluding that ‘we will need some additional runway capacity in the south east of England in the coming decades.’ The Chairman of GACC (the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, Brendon Sewill said: “That was not surprising – if he had said that no new runway was needed he would have done himself out of a job! What was significant was that he felt the need to answer the growing volume of opinion against any new runway. But his statement is bound to add to the worry of people around Gatwick, [and other possible new runway sites] and to the misery caused by blight.” In his speech, Sir Howard ignored the impact that a new runway would have on the local infrastructure – the need for more houses (in the case of Gatwick around 40,000), great pressure on local schools, on the health service and social services, and overcrowding/congestion on roads. GACC does not find convincing the case Sir Howard made for rejecting strong arguments against a new runway, and will be taking up his invitation to submit comments by the end of October.
Is a runway really necessary?
8.10.2013 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign – press release)
GACC chairman, Brendon Sewill, attended the meeting in London on 7 October at which Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, gave a speech concluding that ‘we will need some additional runway capacity in the south east of England in the coming decades.’
Sewill commented: ‘That was not surprising – if he had said that no new runway was needed he would have done himself out of a job! What was significant was that he felt the need to answer the growing volume of opinion against any new runway. But his statement is bound to add to the worry of people around Gatwick, and to the misery caused by blight.
Speaking at the meeting, Sewill suggested to Sir Howard that he had appeared to disregard the environmental damage that would be caused wherever a runway was proposed. Indeed Sir Howard, in his speech, ignored the impact that a new runway would have on the local infrastructure – the need for more houses (in the case of Gatwick around 40,000), great pressure on local schools, on the health service and social services, overcrowding on road and rail.
Sir Howard set out the reasons why many believe a new runway would not be needed: over-optimistic forecasts; the trend towards more passengers per aircraft; the constraint imposed by climate change targets; and the need to lessen the north-south airport divide. GACC, however, does not find convincing the case he made for rejecting these arguments, and will be taking up his invitation to submit comments by the end of October.
Making Gatwick bigger than Heathrow today would draw in more airlines and more flights from airports to the north of London. That would make the north-south divide worse – it is the north that needs the jobs not the London area. Indeed it would be a nonsense to attract more people from the north to fly from Gatwick – the M25 would be stationary, not just sometimes, but all day!
Sir Howard Davies speech gives provisional support for a new south east runway – but shows how borderline the decision would be
October 7, 2013 In a speech in central London Sir Howard Davies set out what he described as the Airports Commission’s “emerging thinking” after their first 11 months of work. He said it ” it would be helpful at this stage to set out some of our early thinking on the issue of overall capacity.” He said: “Our provisional view…. is that additional capacity will need to be provided, alongside an overall framework for managing emissions growth, if we are to deliver the best outcomes in both environmental and connectivity terms.” Also that: “…our provisional conclusion from this analysis …is that we will need some net additional runway capacity in the south east of England in the coming decades.” He first went through 4 sets of arguments against a new runway (less future demand for air travel than anticipated; future demand can be met by existing capacity; carbon emissions from growing aviation could breach UK climate commitments; regional airports could take the extra demand). He then gave explanations for each why he believed the optimal solution would be more runway capacity. He said, on the guidance from the CCC on aviation CO2 emissions needing to be restricted that: “We are in the process of updating the Committee on Climate Change’s analysis and will present our findings in our Interim Report”. Comments on the speech are welcomed by the Commission until 31st October. Click here to view full story…
The speech is at
and some of the many media stories reporting on Sir Howard’s speech, such as the report from the Telegraph:
Sir Howard Davies backs more runways in Britain
Britain must build new runways for the good of the economy and passengers, the government’s airports commissioner has said for the first time.
In his first major public speech, Sir Howard Davies over-ruled arguments from environmentalists and community campaigners against expanding the UK’s aviation market and backed new runways in the South East of England.
Sir Howard gave no hint as to which airports were in the running for new runways but he on Monday drew a line under questions over whether Britain could manage in future using only the capacity that currently exists.
“An attempt to rely only on runways currently in operation would be likely to produce a distinctly sub-optimal solution for passengers, connectivity and the economy,” the former chairman of the Financial Services Authority said.
“Our provisional view…is that additional capacity will need to be provided alongside an overall framework for managing emissions growth, if we are to deliver the best outcomes in both environmental and connectivity concerns.”
While airlines, industry groups and airport operators have long argued that there is a looming “capacity crisis” in the London area, which is driving business abroad, the strong statement from Sir Howard will potentially avoid a long clash with environmental groups over whether Britain needs more runways.
He argued that relying on Britain’s existing capacity may not actually be the best way of reducing the carbon impact of flights, as airlines may start operating more smaller aircraft from airports where there is space rather than flying larger jets from hubs where there is most demand for flights.
“More point-to-point flights in smaller aircraft, together with long passenger movements to airports remote from them, bring significant disadvantages,” he said.
Anti-expansion campaigners have also argued that forecasts of future aviation demand have turned out to be wildly optimistic in the past.
Sir Howard said the UK market has been hit by the recession over the past few years but there is little sign the global aviation market is “saturated”.
The Airports Commission will publish a short-list in December of potential sites that should be considered for extra runway capacity or a whole new hub airport.
Sir Howard has pledged to come up with one single option, although that could potentially involve additional runways at more than one airport, such as Heathrow and Gatwick.
In the short-term, the commission is also looking at how to improve rail and other surface transport links to existing airports.