London Gatwick Airport has submitted an application – known as a Development Consent Order (DCO) – to the UK government’s Planning Inspectorate (PINS), outlining its plans to bring the airport’s existing Northern Runway into routine use alongside its Main Runway.
The Northern Runway is currently limited to acting as a taxiway, only available when the Main Runway is out of use. This application proposes repositioning the center line of the Northern Runway 12 meters north to enable dual runway operations, aligning with international safety standards. The Northern Runway would be used for departing flights only.
Construction could start in 2025 and be completed and ready for operational use by the end of the decade. Most of the construction proposed would take place within the current airport boundary. If approved, the plans would help the airport meet future passenger demand by serving around 75 million passengers a year by the late 2030s.
With this development, London Gatwick expects to create around 14,000 jobs and inject £1bn (US$1.3bn) into the region’s economy every year. The breakdown of jobs includes: over 3,000 new jobs based on the airport; 2,000 new jobs within supply chains of airport businesses, such as aircraft part manufacturers or maintenance firms, located elsewhere; 1,300 additional jobs supported by these new employees spending their wages in local economy; and 7,600 further jobs generated in businesses located in the region that benefit from the additional connectivity and economic activity the airport’s plans would deliver.
London Gatwick’s growth plans have support from residents across Sussex, Surrey and Kent, according to a recent YouGov poll of over 3,000 people. According to the report, 8 out of 10 (78%) residents – who expressed an opinion – said they supported Gatwick’s Northern Runway plans, with two out of 10 (22%) opposing. Of those surveyed, 70% of residents also said they think the airport’s plans are important for the region’s economy, while 73% say they are important for job creation. Only 16% and 15% respectively said they were not important for either.
As part of the submission to PINS, London Gatwick has also made some legally binding commitments, to ensure it controls noise levels and reduces carbon emissions under the airport’s direct control. A legally binding ‘noise envelope’ will commit to reducing noise over time. This commitment ensures that within nine years of the Northern Runway opening the airport’s operations will generate less noise than in 2019, when the airport last operated at full capacity. The Northern Runway will not be used routinely – in conjunction with the main runway – between 11:00pm and 06:00am each day. A noise insulation scheme would also see the numbers of eligible homes increase from the current 2,000 to 4,300.
London Gatwick also recently announced a £250m (US$320m) investment to accelerate its plan to be net zero for its own Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030, 10 years earlier than previously planned, and to commit to this as part of a Carbon Action Plan submitted with its application.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said, “The Northern Runway plan will help secure the long-term future of the airport and economic prosperity for thousands of families, businesses and future generations across the region. If approved, our plan will also improve airport resilience, meet future passenger demand and increase competition in the London airport market, by providing vital new international connections to support ‘Global Britain’.
“The consultation and engagement activity over the past two years has been hugely valuable in shaping our plans to ensure they best meet the needs and requirements of local people, as well as our airlines, passengers and other stakeholders. We are confident that our plans are both economically and environmentally robust.”
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