Gatwick and Heathrow airports on Davies Commission shortlist for airport expansion

News Posted 17/12/13
"Boris Island" off the North Coast of Kent has not featured in the government's shortlist of airport expansion

Gatwick and Heathrow airports have been confirmed as being on the government shortlist for adding an additional runway to each site to meet demands on capacity.

The Davies Commission considered that the most viable options were either adding a third runway at Heathrow, or extending a further one there, or a second for Gatwick.

This has been seen as a huge blow to mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has strongly lobbied for a new Thames Estuary airport.

He had labelled expansion of Heathrow as hugely-damaging to the area, though his pleas for a new multi-billion site dubbed “Boris Island) on the Isle of Grain off the North coast of Kent had met with considerable opposition from campaigners.

The management at Gatwick airport has contended that it would not be possible to build two new runways at the same time, believing that its location should be considered first over Heathrow.

While Gatwick has spare capacity, Heathrow is 98% full – with its owners contending that unless a timely decision is made on the issue, then Britain will fall behind other major hub airports within Europe, which could see billions lost to the economy if consumer demand cannot be met.

This has been underlined by adverse weather conditions in recent weeks causing considerable delays to air traffic at Heathrow, with it flight paths becoming overloaded.

An Independent campaign group for a second runway at Gatwick has been supported by a number of business leaders within the region including Jeremy Taylor of Gatwick Diamond

Business, who felt there was a strong weight of positivity surrounding its bid for a second runway.

Gatwick is presently regarded as the busiest single runway airport in the world, with £50million plans for it airport rail station having been announced last week.

Sir Howard Davies, who had been tasked with examining all options, rejected the remainder of the 58 proposed sites, including Stansted.

He said: “Demand for aviation is going up and we believe that we need one new runway by 2030.”

Despite not being on the shortlist, the Isle of Grain option has not been completely been ruled out, with further examination of the site being promised over the next six months.

It has been reported that there may be a legal challenge to its rejection should it be eliminated completely as an option for the government.

The Davies Commission is not set to make its final recommendation until after the next general election in May 2015.

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