CABINET MINISTER PHILIP HAMMOND CALLS FOR SECOND GATWICK RUNWAY
16 April 2013
Philip Hammond has become the first Cabinet minister to call publicly for expansion at Gatwick to solve the aviation crisis in the South-East.
As reported in the national press, Philip Hammond has become the first Cabinet minister to call publicly for expansion at Gatwick to solve the aviation crisis in the South-East.
The Defence Secretary strongly rejected expansion at Heathrow — but also ruled out a four-runway hub at Stansted and what he called the “fanciful” Boris Island idea.
He claimed a second runway at Gatwick, followed later by an extra runway at Stansted, would provide “decades worth of passenger growth capacity” while preventing a “disastrous” closure of Heathrow.
“The need for more capacity at London’s airport system is undeniable, but the idea that this has to mean four-runway airports needs to be challenged,” he wrote in his local paper, the Surrey Herald. As a former transport secretary, Mr Hammond’s words will carry weight with the Davies Commission set up to consider the future of London’s aviation links.
But he was criticised by Brendon Sewill, chairman of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, who said: “I doubt if he has walked around the area — if so he would see there is no room for a second runway.”
Mr Sewill said expanding Gatwick would be another example of the “short-term solutions” that had blighted British aviation policy for 60 years.
Heathrow airport bosses are also strongly against Mr Hammond’s ideas, saying a dual-hub strategy would not work for airlines or passengers.
However, Gatwick bosses are keen to expand and say a second runway there would affect fewer homes than new runways at Heathrow. Under an agreement with the local community, a second runway at Gatwick could not be built before 2019.
While in charge of the Department for Transport, Mr Hammond favoured the so-called “Heath-wick” solution of two runways each at Heathrow and Gatwick, linked by super-fast rail to form a dual hub.
Mr Hammond warned strongly against a new hub at Stansted — which is believed to be Mayor Boris Johnson’s new favourite — which would be “a disaster” for Heathrow and the west London economy.
“Any solution that implies the closure or even the downgrading of Heathrow would be a disaster for the economy, not only of Runnymede and Weybridge, but of the entire west London and Thames Valley corridor,” he said.
He argued that the traditional hub was less crucial because new aircraft had less need to pause on journeys, and most airlines were in alliances that transferred only between partners.
“So why not reflect that reality with a multi-airport model and expand London’s existing single runway airports at Gatwick and eventually Stansted, to two runways each, providing decades worth of passenger growth capacity,” Mr Hammond wrote.