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Airports set out revised expansion plans

Heathrow and Gatwick airports have today set out revised expansion plans ahead of submission tomorrow to Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission.

Gatwick’s plans highlight the relative simplicity of the project that involves building a new runway on land already set aside for runway expansion.

Heathrow’s plans are more complex. The revised plans show the its proposed third runway moved farther south so that it effects 200 fewer homes and avoids reworking the existing M25/M4 junction. But a section of M25 would still need to be tunnelled and Heathrow is promising to do this and add capacity at the same time. This work would be done alongside the existing section to avoid disrupting existing road users.

The third confirmed contender, Heathrow Hub, has not made its revised plans public but they also focus on building out over the M25. NCE understands that Heathrow Hub’ proposal is now focused on extending just one runway out over the M25 as a first phase. Meanwhile backers of an Estuary aiport are concluding further work request by Davies’ that could still see that proposal added to the mix.

Heathrow and Gatwick’s submissions are both heavily aimed at attacking the opposition.

Gatwick claims that expansion there will enable more people to fly to more destinations – a claimed 10 million more passengers each year would be able to travel with a second runway at Gatwick than with a third runway at Heathrow.

Heahrow claims its plans would permit 40 new direct, daily routes to fast growing economies and would also double cargo capacity to improve UK export competitiveness. It says 65% of the UK’s £400bn freight exports already travel via Heathrow.

Gatwick claims that its £7.8bn plans would deliver £40bn more in economic benefits to the UK than expansion at Heathrow. Heathrow claims its £15.6bn plans would deliver “at least” £100bn of economic benefits, better than any other airport expansion option.

Gatwick says its plans could be delivered five years earlier than a third runway at Heathrow – by 2025 – and could be built at no additional cost or risk to the taxpayer. It says Heathrow’s plans would cost the UK in excess of £1bn in disruption.

Heathrow says it too could deliver its expansion by 2025 and as such it offers the “fastest, most cost effective and most practical route” to delivering new hub capacity. The direct costs would be privately funded but it admits that government support for £1.2bn of surface access improvements would be required.

Both airports claim to have local support.

The £7.8bn cost of expansion would be covered by airport charges of £12 to £15 per passenger at today’s prices, around a third those of Heathrow. Heathrow does not reveal airport charges would need to be to support its plans.

Sir Howard Davies will make recommendations next summer.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • stephen gibson

    It could be considered that locating critical infrastructure such as Gatwick Airport on land identified by the EA as at high risk of flooding is questionable. Any suggestion of another runway would need a comprehensive reform of the airports existing flood strategy and a serious investment in sustainable drainage infrastructure.

    David McMillan non-executive Director of Gatwick Airport Limited states in his report that "actual flooding was significantly more severe than expectations based on flood modelling work. This work should be redone urgently". He stated that "due to heavy rainfall" flood warnings from the EA were not "not seen or acted upon". He also states that "The surface water drainage system is designed to ensure no flooding in airside areas from rainfall delivered by a 1 in 5 year storm." Such systems would not comply even to the building regulations for a domestic dwelling.

    However, the weather records indicate that rainfalls at Gatwick were far from exceptional, with only 19mm on the 24 Dec 2014.

    Gatwick Airport's climate change adaption report sums the major flooding and infrastructure problem up as "flooding and water management were identified as the biggest risks to our business". That's certainly correct.

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