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Gatwick and Heathrow Airports compete for permission to build the UK’s next runway

UK airports Gatwick and Heathrow both announced expansion plans on Tuesday, with Gatwick proposing a second runway and Heathrow planning either a third runway or extending its northern runway to the west.

The revised plans from both airports will be submitted to the Airports Commission, a government-appointed body which is responsible for making decisions on how the UK’s air capacity can be expanded, on 14 May 2014.

According to Heathrow, its expansion is critical to UK economy and will create more than 100,000 new jobs with the addition of forty new long haul destinations to countries such as San José, Wuhan and Kolkata, which are said to be fast growing economies. It anticipates that the economic benefits would be at least GBP100bn. The airport currently handles 65% of the UK’s GBP400bn freight exports and expects to double its cargo capacity if its expansion plans are approved. A third runway at Heathrow would be delivered by 2025.

Gatwick argues that a new runway at its airport would be delivered around five years earlier than a third runway at Heathrow at no additional cost or risk to the taxpayer. It would enable more people to fly to more destinations, generating further competition, keeping fares low, and delivering a further GBP40bn in economic benefits to the UK. Expansion at Gatwick would also provide more than 120,000 jobs in London and the South East, which would rebalance the economy away from the overheated M4 corridor

Heathrow will make its submission following consultations with local residents and businesses, the public, businesses around the country, passengers, airlines and elected representatives across the UK’s nations and regions. It added that it has allocated a compensation fund of over GBP550m for its impact on noise insulation and property compensation in surrounding communities. Although moving the proposed runway farther south will mean that 12,000 fewer people would be affected by significant noise.

However, Gatwick said that fewer homes will be under the flight path than at Heathrow and if it succeeds in its application to build a second runway, the airport will also compensate those most affected with an offer of GBP1,000 per annum towards their Council. Gatwick has also introduced a noise and insulation scheme.


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