Gatwick: Is a runway plan stopping golf fairways?

3.3.2011 (London Evening Standard)
What’s going on at Gatwick airport?  A year ago, the chairman of owner GAL, Sir
David Rowlands, stated publicly that the company had “not a shred of interest
in a second runway”.

Concerned residents, who have been fighting any such plans for decades, were
further reassured by the coalition Government’s clearly stated and total opposition.

So imagine the surprise of a local landowner who has been trying to get consent
for a golf course on an adjacent site for a year, only to find Gatwick airport
objecting at every turn.

Moreover, because of statutory powers, objections from GAL have so far scuppered
the chances of any planning permission. John Parmiter, of planning consultants
Roger Tym, has written to Sir David, demanding answers.

“My clients were naturally delighted to read of your personal assurances, quoted
in a number of sources in February last year,” he writes.  “So, you can understand
their amazement at your company’s continued objection to their golf course ever
since your statement. Can you please explain yourself?

“My clients have, not unreasonably, drawn the conclusion that your company is
secretly planning to build a second runway once the coalition’s term expires.
Why else would you want to stop such an innocuous development?”  
Why indeed?

see also
GACC on the issue of future expansion at Gatwick
GACC on  The Runway Issue
part of which states:


Sir David Rowlands, Chairman of Gatwick Airport Ltd, has stated that a second
runway will not be considered any time in the foreseeable future.   Speaking on
28 January 2010 at the Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee , he said: “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 ?” 
GACC recognises that Sir David’s statement is cleverly worded.  It could mean
no more than that at some point before 2019, when the legal prohibition runs out,
GIP will examine the commercial and political feasibility of a new runway.  We
have learnt not to trust those responsible for airport development.  During the
T5 Inquiry, BAA promised that they would never need a third runway at Heathrow: 
six months after the end of the Inquiry they produced plans for a third runway. 
GAL’s latest thinking as at January 2011 was revealed in their evidence to a Competition

GACC stands ready, if need be, to launch a massive campaign to defeat any new
runway plan, as we have defeated such plans in the past.


Comment from an AirportWatch member:

Michael McGhee of GIP laid out their plans for airport aquisitions at the ACI
airport economics and finance conference in London

GIP have a 10 year plan for LCY (London City Airport) and Gatwick.  In short
its – take over airport , put in new management, sell.   If they do this, we could
expect to see LCY for sale in 2016 and Gatwick in 2020.

Other totally unconfirmed rumours in the press are that   (a) they will bid for
glasgow airport (b) they are in negotiations with the government to buy its shares
in NATS.