Building a second runway at Gatwick would be a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to solve the aviation capacity crisis in the south-east of England, the airport’s boss claims.
Chief executive Stuart Wingate used the platform of an address to the Aviation Club in London to attack rival Heathrow’s expansion plans as being environmentally and politically undeliverable.
His speech came in the wake of the UK Supreme Court ruling that the new government must make cutting air pollution a top priority.
The verdict was jumped on by campaigners such as Hacan which opposes a new runway being built at Heathrow.
Chairman John Stewart told the Independent: “It is difficult to see how any government will get away with backing a new runway at Heathrow when the plans it is now required to draw up urgently to present to the EU say it must come up with a coherent plan to cut air pollution.”
Heathrow has claimed support from businesses, chambers of commerce around the UK and airlines for its expansion plans.
But Wingate claimed that expanding the London hub would blight the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and reinforce a high-cost monopoly provider at the expense of passengers.
“Heathrow expansion is environmentally toxic, which makes it politically toxic, but Gatwick’s case has won many supporters because it can provide all the economic benefits of additional runway capacity at a fraction of the environmental costs,” he told the Aviation Club.
“While Gatwick’s plan can be realised within the next ten years, Heathrow’s expansion prospects have become even less deliverable.
“Heathrow is simply in the wrong place. No other airport in the world points two runways at the heart of a city of 10 million people with the enormous noise impacts that brings, let alone considers adding a third.
“The air around Heathrow is continually in breach of EU and UK nitrous oxide legal limits and yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that will legally bind the next government to take urgent action to improve air quality is something of a showstopper for Heathrow expansion.
“Gatwick’s plan provides the Airports Commission and the government with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to solve the issue of airport capacity for the generations to come.”
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