Gatwick plans to use emergency runway as 2nd runway, to increase passengers by 50% and increase flights by 36% by 2030

Gatwick has published its Final Master Plan which confirms its plans to use its emergency runway as a second runway, by widening and re-aligning it.  Gatwick says it is not considering building another runway to the south of the existing main runway, but wants to keep that land “safeguarded” for up to 25 years, in case it wants another runway in due course. It hopes to have the emergency runway brought into use for departures by the mid-2020s. They will start to prepare a planning application for this, which will have to go through the Development Consent Order (DCO) process. Local group GACC commented that Gatwick’s new owners, the Vinci Group, have shown immediate disregard for their local community neighbours. The plans will damage and blight the lives of thousands of residents surrounding the airport, due to the noise and severe effects on a local infrastructure that is already overburdened. The extra flights, including those at night, will have serious impacts on those further away living under flight paths. The proposals to grow the airport’s capacity by between 20% and 50% over the next 10 – 12 years involve not only the 2nd runway, but also use of new technology on the main runway. 


Master Plan at–community/growing-gatwick/master-plan-2019/gatwick-master-plan-2019.pdf

Gatwick plans to use emergency runway to increase passenger capacity by 50 per cent by 2030

By  STEPHANIE COCKROFT (Evening Standard)

18th July 2019

Gatwick says it has abandoned plans to build an additional runway but will bring the airport’s emergency runway into “routine use” by 2020.

The airport said it is preparing a planning application to get the second airstrip ready so it can be used alongside the main runway for departures.

If the plans are approved, the airport would aim to be serving around 70million passengers by the early 2030s.

The airport currently caters for around 46m passengers, meaning the capacity would be increased by around 50 per cent.

Plans for an additional runway, which it has abandoned as part of the masterplan, would have served up to around 92m passengers.

Last year Heathrow – which is the location chosen by the government for a new full-length runway – handled 78 million passengers.

The airport, the second largest in the UK after Heathrow, said it hoped the runway would be in use by the middle of 2020.

The announcement follows public consultation, in which two-thirds of people said the airport should make the most of its existing runways.

Another public consultation will be held once the planning application for the standby runway is submitted.

Gatwick said the plan is the “most sustainable way” for the airport to expand over the next 15 years.

London Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate said: “The plans would deliver additional capacity for Gatwick, which will provide choices for the future – including incrementally growing our airport to meet demand and continuing to provide solid operational performance for passengers and airlines.

“This would be the biggest private investment for the region in the coming years, which would result in significant local economic benefits, including new jobs for the area.

“Gatwick’s global connections are needed more than ever but as we take our plans forward, we must do so in the most sustainable and responsible way and in full partnership with our local councils, communities, passengers and partners.”

The announcement has already drawn criticism from campaign groups with Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions saying: “This is simply a second runway by stealth.”

They added: “To use the emergency runway alongside the main runway is in affect a second runway as it will have to be moved by some 12 metres to allow it to be used.

“As such it is a second runway without the full parliamentary scrutiny or any funding for our roads or railway line that will see a huge increase in passenger and workers numbers migrating into Gatwick.”

Gatwick currently consists of the main runway and the standby runway, which is used certain circumstances, including when there is maintenance on the main runway.

The airport began campaigning for a new runway when management published proposals in 2013 as a solution to the chronic shortage of aviation capacity in South East England.

Its expansion plans were dealt a blow in October 2016 when the government rejected its proposal for a new second runway, giving the go-ahead for Heathrow to build a third runway.

At the time, a Gatwick Airport spokesman said it was disappointed with the decision, which was “not the right answer for Britain”.

It disputed the Airports Commission’s findings that the economic benefits of a Heathrow expansion would be greater.

Gatwick is the second-busiest airport in the UK and the busiest single-runway in the world in terms of flight movement.

It serves more than 230 destinations in 74 countries for 46 million passengers a year as well as generating around 85,000 jobs nationally, with 24,000 of these located on the airport.


This is Gatwick’s report on its consultation:–community/growing-gatwick/master-plan-2019/gatwick-consultation-report.pdf

GACC comment on the news of Gatwick’s expansion plans:

18.7.2019 (GACC – Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign)

Gatwick’s new owners, the Vinci Group, have shown immediate disregard for their local community neighbours.

The purchase deal was sealed on 14th May this year and just two months later GAL (Gatwick Airport Ltd) have announced devastating expansion plans that will damage and blight the lives of thousands of residents surrounding the airport as well impacting on those further away living under flight paths.

The proposals to grow the airports capacity by between 20% and 50% over the next ten to twelve years involves use of new technology on the main runway and re-aligning and widening the existing emergency (or standby) runway to form a second runway.

Despite claiming that Gatwick is no longer pursuing an additional full runway GAL also wish to continue to blight residents living to the south of the airport with its demand to maintain the safeguarding land from any other development for anything up to 25 years.

The use of the Emergency Runway in conjunction with the Main Runway will substantially increase the noise and health impacts particularly on residents living to the north of the airport. The increase in the number of flights would have considerable noise impacts on those beneath the already concentrated flight paths surrounding the airport. This proposed growth will have severe effects on a local infrastructure already overburdened as a result of current growth.

Chairman of GACC, Peter Barclay, concluded “Despite communities already rejecting the Draft Master Plan in November last year GAL continues to push for unsustainable growth. GACC and other local community groups have met and unanimously agreed to challenge these proposals as robustly as possible. In a world that is fast recognising aviation’s negative impact on health through noise impacts and air pollution, together with its contribution to climate change, GAL and the aviation industry ignore these impacts and blindly steamroller their unsustainable demands forward. “


See also:

Letter by Gatwick area MPs opposing Gatwick 2nd runway expansion plans

MP’s from the Gatwick Co-ordination Group have expressed concerns about the rapid growth plans for Gatwick, in their “master plan”.  The MPs say more people are negatively impacted by Gatwick’s noise operations than 10 years ago, both close to the airport and many miles away under flightpaths, creating health issues and congestion locally through inadequate infrastructure. They say: “Over the past few years Gatwick Airport has continually under invested in the local amenities and social infrastructure that would be required to support a project of this size and scale. We cannot support expansion of the airport without a comprehensive investment in the local area which would ease pressure on the over-stretched road and rail systems serving the airport.  At a time of increasing concern about the environmental impact of global aviation growth, the proposed expansion plans would see a marked increase in carbon emissions, with clearer environmental consequences for us all. … The safeguarding of land for a new full runway is a clear indication that Gatwick has future plans to build a 3rd runway, as well as converting the current standby runway into a second runway.”

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Gatwick Airport PR says:

18th July 2019

Gatwick Airport today published its Final Master Plan which confirms plans to take forward the sustainable development of the airport.

In October 2018, our Draft Master Plan consultation set out three scenarios for future growth:

  1. Using new technology to build capacity and resilience on the main runway;
  2. Bringing the existing standby runway into routine use for departures only alongside the main runway by the mid-2020s;
  3. Recommending planning policy continues to safeguard land for an additional runway.

In total, we received more than 5,000 responses and were encouraged that two-thirds (66%) of people supported the principle of growing Gatwick by making best use of our existing runways, in line with Government policy.

As a result, we will progress with plans to introduce new technology to build capacity and resilience on our main runway. We are also announcing today that we will prepare a planning application to bring our standby runway into routine use.

The innovative proposals for the standby runway will deliver additional capacity at the airport that enables us to balance operational resilience and sustainable growth.

As one of the biggest private investments in the region, the scheme will deliver greater connectivity, a better passenger experience through greater competition, and an economic boost that secures jobs and opportunities for generations to come. These benefits can all be delivered while keeping the airport’s noise footprint broadly similar to today’s levels, and with minimal disruption to our neighbours and the environment. (sic).

The consultation report, also published today, provides extensive feedback on our consultation and those views will help shape our plans as we prepare a Development Consent Order – a rigorous planning process that will include further engagement and public consultation next year and culminates in a final decision by the Secretary of State.

We will now carry out a number of detailed studies to assess the impacts and benefits of our proposals before consulting the public again next year.

We are also recommending that national and local planning policy continues to safeguard the land that would be required for a new runway, should it be required in the longer-term.

However, we reiterate today that we are no longer actively pursuing plans for an additional runway.

We will of course keep you up to date at regular intervals as our plans progress. In the meantime further information on our plans is available at

You can also sign up to our community newsletter at

Stewart Wingate
Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport