Ahead of a long-awaited decision on airport expansion, Gatwick Airport’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate has written an open letter to MPs urging them to choose growth and back a second runway at Gatwick so that Britain can finally break a decades-long impasse and reap the benefits of airport expansion.
The letter sets out ten key questions at the heart of the expansion debate from speed of delivery, cost of construction, to the environmental impacts, all of which Gatwick is the clear winner.
Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate said:
“The Government has an important decision before it. There is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to support Gatwick’s plan which can actually be delivered.
“Successive Governments have tried and failed to expand Heathrow and given the insurmountable noise and air quality it faces, a decision for Heathrow will inevitably lead to more delays and stalled growth.
“With Gatwick, for the first time, there is now a real and credible alternative on the table which can deliver for Britain.
“After years of delay only by backing Gatwick can we build a new runway faster, at half the cost, delivering similar economic benefits, all at a dramatically lower environmental cost meaning we can finally reap the benefits of additional runway capacity and demonstrate to the world Britain truly remains open for business.”
The full text of Stewart Wingate’s letter is below:
Dear Member of Parliament,
A decision on airport expansion is fast approaching. If this situation feels familiar, it’s because it is: we’ve had decades of delay during which successive Governments have tried and failed to expand Heathrow. For the first time, though, Gatwick means that there is a real and credible alternative on the table. Given the history of this debate there are real questions that need to be answered and there is a real choice to be made:
1. Do we want to choose a runway that history shows us can’t be built, or do we want to choose a runway that can?
2. Do we want to choose a runway with astronomic costs whose delivery can’t be guaranteed, or do we want to choose a runway that could be in action within ten years?
3. Do we want to choose a runway that needs anywhere between five and twenty billion pounds of taxpayer subsidy, or one that requires no public funding?
4. Do we want to choose a runway that recreates the old airports monopoly, or one that promotes competition with more choice, lower fares and more resilience for the UK airport system?
5. Do we want to choose a runway that will limit long haul growth at the airports of our nations and regions, or a runway that will support balanced growth across the UK?
6. Do we want to choose a runway that Treasury analysis says will generate lower net economic benefits for the UK, or one that will give Britain the growth it needs?
7. Do we want to choose a runway where the financial risk will simply be passed directly to passengers and the taxpayer, or one whose risk will substantially be borne by its owners?
8. Do we want to choose a runway whose construction, were it possible, would mean demolishing a village with 1,000 homes, and mean tunnelling under, diverting, or bridging the M25, ensuring at least 10 years of crippling roadworks, or do we want to choose a runway that can be built with relatively little disruption, because of the safeguarded land it would sit on?
9. Do we want to choose a runway that would mean hundreds of thousands of extra planes flying over Central London, inflicting serious levels of noise pollution on around a million people, or a runway that would affect around 5% of that number?
10. Do we want to choose a runway that will increase the air pollution around Heathrow, which is already way above legal limits, or do we want to choose a runway that will continue Gatwick’s record of never having breached air quality limits?
Ten questions, with only one answer.
Certainty has never been more important. Britain can’t afford another false start. We all want Britain to grow so I hope you will agree that means choosing Gatwick.
Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport