Gatwick cannot use its emergency runway (too close to main runway) for extra flights, without new planning permission
A report in CityAM says Gatwick is hopeful of using its emergency runway, to boost the number of flights it can handle. The emergency runway is parallel to the main runway at the airport, and during normal operations is used as a taxiway. The runway is too close to the main runway to be used at the same time, and is only used in emergencies, if the main runway is out of action. Not only does the 1979 legal agreement between Gatwick (BAA as it then was) and West Sussex County Council rule this out, before August 2019, but also the planning permission for the Emergency Runway restricts it to just that – emergency use when the principal runway is unavailable (obstructions, maintenance etc). This means that a specific planning application will need to be made even after August 2019 to change use from emergency only. In minutes from a November meeting of the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee, the airport’s chief executive Stewart Wingate said Gatwick will be looking at “the capability of Gatwick’s main runway and the northern (maintenance /emergency) runway before looking at a new runway over the coming months”.
Gatwick Airport mulls use of emergency runway to boost capacity as it waits for expansion green light
By Rebecca Smith (City AM)
Gatwick is investigating the potential of using its emergency runway to boost capacity, as it waits in the wings for government to back expansion of the London airport.
In minutes from a November meeting of the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee, the airport’s chief executive Stewart Wingate said Gatwick will be looking at “the capability of Gatwick’s main runway and the northern (maintenance/emergency) runway before looking at a new runway over the coming months”.
As part of its planning for future growth, the airport will consider the possibility in its “master plan” showing how it intends to develop.
The emergency runway is parallel to the main runway at the airport, and during normal operations is used as a taxiway.
While Gatwick cannot currently use the two at the same time, the committee was told the 1979 legal agreement, which had prohibited concurrent use of the emergency runway, expires next year.
The airport has begun to explore how else it can improve capacity as it awaits backing from the government for a second runway. In October 2016, Heathrow got the green light for a third runway, with a vote on the government’s airports national policy statement expected to go before MPs in the summer.
Gatwick says it remains ready to deliver a second runway, but is conscious of improving capacity with passenger numbers on the rise. For 2017, it welcomed a record 45.6m passengers and is already eyeing reaching a fresh milestone of 50m.
The airport said, in the meantime, the government had challenged airports to make the best use of their existing facilities, and this proposal was a way of doing that.
The committee underlined the importance of Gatwick engaging with local communities at “an early stage” in the process, as it examines options for maximising the use of its existing infrastructure.
A spokesperson for Gatwick said:
We aim to explore many different options to improve the resilience and efficiency of the airport.
It is very early in this process and, if any viable plans emerge from this work, including potentially making some use of our northern runway, we would of course publish and consult widely with the local community and politicians before any decisions are made on changes to operations.
One sticking point is that the northern runway is shorter and thinner than its existing runway – not to mention very close to it.
As such, Gatwick has noted, it could not be operated independently in the way a brand new second runway could, which it continues to push for as a “deliverable, phaseable and privately funded solution”.
Gatwick has continually argued that expansion at one London airport should not rule out the possibility of a new runway at another, saying a policy progressing with both would allow the government “to mitigate the high risks associated with expansion at Heathrow, as well as ensuring that faster growing traffic demand is met in a timely manner, and the advantages of airport competition are secured”.
Heathrow however, has said its rival should not automatically be next in line for expansion. In a recent submission to the Transport Select Committee, it said there was “not yet any policy basis” for Gatwick being higher up in the queue than the likes of Stansted and Birmingham.
Heathrow Airport says Gatwick shouldn’t “automatically” be next in line for expansion after completion of its third runway
By Rebecca Smith (City AM)
London Heathrow has said Gatwick is not the automatic next choice for airport expansion in the UK – adding that there was “not yet any policy basis” for its rival being in prime position over the likes of Stansted or Birmingham.
Gatwick has been vocal in its push to secure expansion despite Heathrow getting the green light from government in October 2016, saying it does not need to be one or the other.
Gatwick’s chief financial officer, Nick Dunn, told MPs last month: “There is quite a lot of to and fro about whether one is better than the other, but we are left with a slightly artificial construct. Why one? Why not both? That delivers capacity to the system. It supports resilience in the system. It supports competition and it supports a sharing of the load across the system.”
But in a fresh swipe at its London rival, Heathrow responded in evidence published by the Transport Select Committee this week. The airport said:
Even if the government decides that there does need to be another new runway, as well as expansion at Heathrow, there is not yet any policy basis for it to decide this should be Gatwick rather than at another airport such as Stansted or Birmingham.
Read more: Heathrow launches expansion consultation on cost-cutting runway plans
Heathrow said: “We continue to support growth at other airports across Britain where there is demand.”
However, it said the government’s airports national policy statement will set out the need for a new runway at Heathrow and “does not provide the policy basis for additional runway capacity beyond that”, as it was derived from the Airports Commission’s work.
That, Heathrow said, addressed whether one extra runway in the south east was needed, and if so, where it should go.
“Consequently, the Airports Commission’s policy analysis did not conclude that any one of the other options it looked at should automatically be selected for the next runway after Heathrow,” the airport added.
On Wednesday, the airport launched a consultation on its initial plans for expansion, having said it can chop £2.5bn off the overall cost of its third runway.
Campaigners have already criticised the proposals, with Stop Heathrow Expansion saying the airport plans to use vast amounts of green belt land for buildings to support the third runway.
Rob Barnstone, coordinator of the group, said it was “deeply disappointing and worrying for our local environment”.
He added: “There is a great irony in pledging to have no additional cars using an expanded airport compared with now, then wanting to build a huge new car park on green belt land site.”
Heathrow has said it plans to introduce congestion charges in a bid to crack down on the number of vehicles driven to the airport, though it added that would ensure “appropriate exemptions” are made for those who rely on their car, for example due to reduced mobility.
Read more: Gatwick just announced it had a record-breaking 2017 http://www.cityam.com/278674/gatwick-just-announced-had-record-breaking-2017-passenger
Gatwick has a smaller, spare runway to the north of the main runway which is only used in emergencies, and it was opened to departures and arrivals at 4.35pm to help clear the backlog of flights.
Chaos at Gatwick as main runway is closed by a pothole: