Londoners have backed Gatwick over Heathrow for expansion, according to a new YouGov poll.
Support for a second runway at Gatwick among more than 1,000 people surveyed in the capital is ten points higher (44%) than for rival Heathrow, according to the study.
Eight out of ten (79%) agreed that air quality is important to the airport expansion debate.
Half (49%) of those polled also said that the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal had made them more concerned about air quality.
Gatwick, which commissioned the poll, also scored best on six out of seven key indicators YouGov asked – scoring almost twice as well as Heathrow in many of them.
The indicators were:
- Negative impact on quality of life for local residents – Gatwick 41% / Heathrow 24%
- Built at lowest cost to taxpayers – Gatwick 38% / Heathrow 20%
- Encouraging vigorous competition – Gatwick 43% / Heathrow 22%·
- How quickly a new runway could be delivered – Gatwick 34% / Heathrow 24%·
- Certainty the new runway can be delivered – Gatwick 34% / Heathrow 24%
- Regeneration benefits to local area – Gatwick 41% / Heathrow 23%
- Economic benefits to UK – Gatwick 27% / Heathrow 38%
Two thirds (67%) of respondents said it was important that the expanded airport had strong connection to other UK airports.
Gatwick chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “Support for Gatwick has increased in recent months. The reason is simple. Londoners recognise that it is the best choice to balance economic growth with environmental impact. Most importantly after decades of delay it can actually happen.”
He described air quality as the “defining issue” in the airport expansion debate, as it has been twice before.
“This final decision comes down to which scheme is lawful to build and operate,” said Wingate.
“It would be unlawful to approve Heathrow expansion today with two runways as air quality breaches legal limits, so it’s very difficult to see it any better with a third.”
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