Decision to be made shortly on airport expansion in South East England

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said on Sunday that a decision on where to expand airport capacity in the South East of England will be made shortly.

There are three short-listed options:

  • A new third runway at Heathrow.
  • A new runway at Gatwick.
  • An extension of an existing runway at Heathrow.

“We’ll take the best decision that we think is right for the country,” Grayling said in an interview broadcasted by the BBC on Sunday.

“I’ve been genuinely impressed by all three of the short-listed options. They’ve all been thought through very carefully, they’re all very attractive in their own ways, so we’ve got an interesting and challenging decision to take.”


The Heathrow plan


At an estimated cost of £18.6bn, Heathrow wants to build a new runway 3,500 metres long – long enough for even the largest aircraft (A380s) to operate on – and ramp up capacity for up to 740,000 flight movements.

Concept design of an expanded Heathrow.
Concept design of an expanded Heathrow.

Two new main terminals would be built – Heathrow East and Heathrow West, with a “toast-rack” formation of satellite terminals.

CGI fly through of Heathrow expansion plans:

The airport has also offered £700 million in property and noise compensation, including a +25% above market value offer for those within the designated zone.


An expansion at Gatwick is also possible


Those against expanding Heathrow were quick to point to comments made the new Prime Minister Theresa May in 2009 as MP of Maidenhead, a constituency only 17 miles away from the UK’s busiest airport.

May said at the time: “We need a better Heathrow, not a bigger Heathrow.” Adding: “My constituents face the prospect of a reduction in their quality of life with more planes flying overhead, restriction in driving their cars locally and a far worse train service.”

“Why Gatwick is the obvious choice for expansion”

Last month the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the government should choose Gatwick for new airport capacity in the southeast.

Shortly after Gatwick announced it would boost its investment in the airport by an additional £200 million, Mr Khan said:

“Gatwick is the front door to London for millions of visitors to our city and I salute their decision to spend another £200m on improvements to the airport. They have put together a formidable plan that is a fantastic display of their confidence in London.

“The new Prime Minister has a very important decision to make regarding new airport capacity, and I urge her to rule as swiftly as possible in favour of a second runway at Gatwick, which would bring substantial economic benefits.”

The term ‘economic benefits’ may refer to the economy or an individual company. In this case, it refers to the economy.

A two runway Gatwick.

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said:

“As Gatwick rapidly approaches full capacity, this increased investment paves the way for our second runway project. As we enter a new era for Britain, we must be agile and decisive as a country to show the world that we are open for business.

“It is now clear that only Gatwick can deliver the runway Britain needs to boost international competitiveness and trading links at a time when it is most needed, and we can do that before 2025.

“This investment will also make sure that we can continue Gatwick’s record growth and transformation. Our total investment since coming into private ownership now stands at £2.5 billion as we operate the World’s most efficient single runway airport.”