Cabinet minister (Defence Secretary) Philip Hammond calls for 2nd Gatwick runway
Philip Hammond (the Defence Secretary) has become the first Cabinet minister to call publicly for expansion at Gatwick – writing in the Surrey Herald. He is opposed to expansion at Heathrow, opposes a Thames Estuary hub, and also opposes the idea of a large hub airport at Stansted, as it would do economic damage to the Heathrow area. Last year he was enthusiastic about the Heathwick idea – a joint hub with Heathrow and Gatwick linked by high speed rail (an idea rejected by both airports). Now he has publicly said he wants a 2nd runway at Gatwick, followed later by a 2nd runway at Stansted. Mr Hammond is MP for Runnymede and Weybridge, an area affected by planes from Heathrow. Mr Hammond’s comment has been criticised by Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC), who said: “I doubt if he has walked around the area — if so he would see there is no room for a 2nd runway.” Mr Sewill said expanding Gatwick would be another example of the “short-term solutions” that had blighted British aviation policy for 60 years.
Cabinet minister Philip Hammond calls for second Gatwick runway
12 April 2013 (Evening Standard)
Philip Hammond has become the first Cabinet minister to call publicly for expansion at Gatwick to solve the aviation crisis in the South-East.
The Defence Secretary strongly rejected expansion at Heathrow — but also ruled out a four-runway hub at Stansted and what he called the “fanciful” Boris Island idea.
He claimed a second runway at Gatwick, followed later by an extra runway at Stansted, would provide “decades worth of passenger growth capacity” while preventing a “disastrous” closure of Heathrow.
“The need for more capacity at London’s airport system is undeniable, but the idea that this has to mean four-runway airports needs to be challenged,” he wrote in his local paper, the Surrey Herald. As a former transport secretary, Mr Hammond’s words will carry weight with the Davies Commission set up to consider the future of London’s aviation links.
But he was criticised by Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, who said: “I doubt if he has walked around the area — if so he would see there is no room for a second runway.”
Mr Sewill said expanding Gatwick would be another example of the “short-term solutions” that had blighted British aviation policy for 60 years.
Heathrow airport bosses are also strongly against Mr Hammond’s ideas, saying a dual-hub strategy would not work for airlines or passengers.
However, Gatwick bosses are keen to expand and say a second runway there would affect fewer homes than new runways at Heathrow. Under an agreement with the local community, a second runway at Gatwick could not be built before 2019.
While in charge of the Department for Transport, Mr Hammond favoured the so-called “Heath-wick” solution of two runways each at Heathrow and Gatwick, linked by super-fast rail to form a dual hub.
Mr Hammond warned strongly against a new hub at Stansted — which is believed to be Mayor Boris Johnson’s new favourite — which would be “a disaster” for Heathrow and the west London economy.
“Any solution that implies the closure or even the downgrading of Heathrow would be a disaster for the economy, not only of Runnymede and Weybridge, but of the entire west London and Thames Valley corridor,” he said.
He argued that the traditional hub was less crucial because new aircraft had less need to pause on journeys, and most airlines were in alliances that transferred only between partners.
“So why not reflect that reality with a multi-airport model and expand London’s existing single runway airports at Gatwick and eventually Stansted, to two runways each, providing decades worth of passenger growth capacity,” Mr Hammond wrote
Philip Hammond flies into airports row with ‘Heathwick’ plan
Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, has thrown his weight behind plans for a new “Heath-wick” airport hub, featuring a new high-speed rail-link between Heathrow and Gatwick airport.
21 Oct 2012
The minister, whose constituency is close to the West London airport, warned that there would be strong opposition to building a third runway at Heathrow and that doing so would require current flight paths across south east England to be redrawn.
“People who live in the south east and have no disturbance at the moment may find they are affected if a third runway is built,” said Mr Hammond, who served as the Coalition’s Transport Secretary until a year ago.
The Defence Secretary also attacked plans for a new airport in the Thames estuary, a project widely known as “Boris Island” because one of its most vocal champions is the London Mayor, Boris Johnson.
Mr Hammond warned that such a project would be very expensive and require closing Heathrow, which he believes would “destroy” the economies of West London, the Thames Valley, and the Surrey-Sussex corridor. “That would be a complete disaster,” he said.
Experts believe it would cost in the region of £5billion to link the two airports, with a high-speed train that could take about 15 minutes.
Mr Hammond thinks that the distance between the sites could be cut to as little as 10 minutes by the most advanced high-speed trains.
The Department for Transport has previously looked at a shuttle service between Heathrow and Gatwick that would initially run parallel with the M25, before disappearing into tunnels en route to Gatwick.
Mr Hammond’s intervention comes just days after London’s mayor threatened to launch legal action against the Government in a bid to speed up airport expansion.
Over the summer David Cameron appointed Sir Howard Davies, the economist, to lead a commission into whether Britain should increase the capacity of its airports. However, the economist is not due to publish his final report until 2015.
Many businesses are pleading for the Prime Minister to make a decision now to make it easier for British firms to gain better access to China and other fast-growing economies.
Although many experts say there is more space to expand Gatwick, there is a legal lock on increasing the size of this airport until 2019.
There is plenty of information on the GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) website about why a 2nd runway at Gatwick would not be an appropriate or effective plan
Gatwick is a small airport, and is confined by the towns of Horley and Crawley, and by the medieval village of Charlwood, and also by high ground to the west and the main London – Brighton railway line to the east.Charles de Gaulle Airport at Paris is five times as large. Gatwick has one main runway, and one subsidiary runway which can be used when the main runway is not available. The two runways are too close together to be used simultaneously.Any new runway is ruled out before August 2019 by a legal agreement between BAA and West Sussex County Council signed in 1979.
Below are some of the main reasons against a 2nd runway at Gatwick:
- The new runway, as referred to in the GAL (Gatwick Airport Ltd) announcement in October 2012 would only be about 400 yards from the residential area of Crawley, with the airport boundary only 100 yards away. Noise and pollution would have a serious impact on many of the 100,000 people living in Crawley.
- Doubling the size of Gatwick would mean twice as many aircraft, twice the noise, twice the pollution, twice the airport-related road traffic, and new flight-paths over areas at present peaceful, for example Horsham.
- Making Gatwick the same size as Heathrow today would require a new terminal, the size of T5 at Heathrow. Also a large inward migration of labour, additional housing, and the urbanisation of rural areas.
- It is wrong of GAL to suggest that it matters less to inflict noise on the people living around Gatwick than those near Heathrow just because there are fewer of them. Vast swathes of Kent, Surrey and Sussex are already adversely affected by noise generated by Gatwick’s operations.
- The area around Gatwick is not sparsely populated but has many large towns and villages. It is blessed with several areas of outstanding natural beauty such as Ashdown Forest or Leith Hill each offering tranquillity to about a million visitors a year. Aircraft noise is accentuated by low background noise.
- The runway shown on the GAL plan is too close to the existing runway to allow space for a new terminal and for aircraft to manoeuvre safely on the ground. [That was the view of British Airways in their response to Government consultation on new runways 2003. It is also admitted by Gatwick Airport in their 2012 master plan, paragraph 10.3.6]
- Gatwick can never provide the four-runway hub airport that many consider necessary to compete with Paris, Amsterdam or Frankfurt.
- The expansion of air travel on a scale to require new runways would be ruled out by the UK’s climate change targets.
- The expansion of aviation is largely due to the fact that aviation fuel is untaxed and air tickets are not subject to VAT (air passenger duty is small by comparison).
The need for a new runway in the South East is frequently exaggerated. Gatwick is only ¾ full and Stansted less than ½ full. Previous forecasts have been proved wrong: in 1970 BAA said they needed a new Gatwick runway by 1980; in 1989 the CAA said a new runway in the SE was needed by 1995; in 2003 the Government said that a new runway should be built at Stansted by 2012; the latest official forecasts indicate that a new runway somewhere in the South East is needed by 2030. But that will be proved wrong again if the price of oil goes up.
ANY NEW RUNWAY INEFFICIENT
GACC has explained why any of the potential locations for a new runway would be unsatisfactory for the airlines and environmentally unacceptable.
Evidence submitted to Government Review of Aviation Policy.
Evidence submitted to Transport Select Committee.
WHY A NEW RUNWAY WOULD NOT WORK
Because of the constricted topography at Gatwick, any new runway won’t work from an aviation point of view.
See GACC booklet. Although this was produced in 2003 none of the constricting hills or towns have moved.
STATEMENT BY THE OWNERS OF GATWICK
Gatwick Airport Ltd (GAL) announced in October 2012 that they were proposing to study possible locations for a new runway at Gatwick. See GAL website.
This was in contradiction to the statement by Sir David Rowlands, Chairman of Gatwick Airport Ltd, on 28 January 2010 at the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee: “The simple fact is that we at Gatwick have not a shred of interest in a second runway. It’s not government policy and it’s not in our policy. Even if the Government started to look more favourably at the prospect, we would have to think very hard about spending £100 to £200 million on a planning application with an uncertain decision. We would have to look even more carefully at the economic value of a multi-billion pound project – would there be a commercial return ?”
GAL evidence to the Transport Select Committee.