Gatwick Airport and future aviation

Review of the requirements for increased airport capacity in the South East.

Review findings

The Government is currently considering the future of aviation and airport capacity. It asked an independent commission - the Airports' Commission - to consider whether there is a need for increased airport capacity and, if so, how it might be provided.

The Commission has now completed its work, and concluded there is a need for an additional runway in the South East of England. It recommended that, while both Gatwick and Heathrow Airports could provide the additional capacity, Heathrow Airport is best placed in terms of national economic benefits, connections around the world and handling freight.

The Government will decide on whether and how to provide the additional runway capacity.

Our response

West Sussex County Council responded to the consultations by the Airports' Commission. We, via a majority vote, opposed expansion of Gatwick Airport, following the high level of opposition that has been raised locally over the environmental impact and infrastructure implications of a second runway.

The letter to the Airports Commission and a summary of the County Council's response are available in the supporting documents below.

Unanimous support was given to us continuing to engage with the Government, residents, businesses and Gatwick Airport Limited to ensure the county gets the best deal possible from whatever future decision is made by the Government.

We will work with our partners to find the best balance between economic growth, employment, transport connection, and environmental and social impacts. Gatwick impacts on the environment via noise and other pollution, traffic generation and pressure for development.

Taking account of these impacts, the County Council has a long-standing policy supporting the operation of Gatwick Airport as a 1-runway, 2-terminal airport, subject to safeguards to improve any adverse environmental impacts (West Sussex Structure Plan 2001-2016).

The County Council and the owners of Gatwick are parties to a legal agreement preventing work to build an additional runway before 2019.

In response to the work of the Airports' Commission, the County Council, along with Crawley Borough Council, Gatwick Diamond Initiatives and Surrey Connects, researched the possible likely effects of a second runway at Gatwick Airport, or increased capacity elsewhere in the South East.

Together with Crawley Borough Council, we also carried out a survey of residents' and businesses' attitudes to air travel.

While the Government considers the options, we are working with partner organisations to consider the likely effects of increased airport capacity in the South East, whether caused by Gatwick Airport or Heathrow Airport. This work is considering the likely need for new or improved infrastructure, such as roads, train services, schools and health care facilities.

See also: Gatwick Airport Consultative Committee (GATCOM).

Supporting documents

Last updated:
24 February 2020
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