Gatwick moots development consent order to bring standby runway into use

Gatwick Airport has today revealed plans that consider seeking a development consent order (DCO) to bring its standby runway into use to accommodate long-term growth.

Gatwick: draft masterplan unveils options for long-term growth of airport
Gatwick: draft masterplan unveils options for long-term growth of airport

A draft masterplan, launched by the airport today, looks at how the airport could grow in the longer term up to the 2030s.  

A key option, according to the document, is to use the existing standby runway to increase capacity.

Under the current planning agreement at the airport, the standby runway is only used when the main runway is closed for maintenance or emergencies. The masterplan, however, sets out how the standby runway could be brought into routine use for departing flights.

"As the planning consent for the standby runway precludes its simultaneous use with the main runway, we would need to seek a new permission to operate this scheme," the masterplan says.

"If we take this scheme forward, we would expect permission to be secured through the [DCO process], which is the planning route recommended for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs).

"Allowing for the time needed to secure planning permission and deliver the necessary infrastructure changes, we believe the standby runway could be brought into regular use by the mid-2020s," it says.

Land for an additional runway at Gatwick Airport should also continue to be safeguarded, despite the government’s support for an additional runway at Heathrow, according to the draft blueprint.

It says that continued safeguarding of land for an additional runway built to the south of the existing failcity, is still necessary.

"We believe it is in the national interest to preserve this opportunity to build a new runway in the south east to meet longer term demand growth," the document says.

"The Department for Transport’s forecasts show that by 2025 the main London airports, with the exception of Stansted, are expected to be effectively full and that, even with a third runway at Heathrow, UK airport capacity constraints will be apparent by 2030 and in subsequent years."

"An additional runway could be delivered within approximately ten years of starting the planning process and would take Gatwick’s capacity to approximately 95 million passengers per annum," it says.

The land in question is safeguarded by planning authority Crawley Borough Council, which prevents any other development taking place on the land.

"Although in view of government support for expansion at Heathrow, we are not currently pursuing this scheme we believe it remains a credible means of providing longer term growth for the country, and it should therefore continue to be safeguarded," Gatwick’s draft masterplan says.

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