Gatwick Airport has begun a new study into the various options for building a second runway at the gateway.
The report is designed to assess the “key requirements” concerning a new runway, including its environmental and economic impacts, and is due to be submitted to the Independent Commission on Aviation Connectivity.
The commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is due to report back to the UK government on airport capacity in 2015.
Despite the new study, Gatwick Airport has maintained that it will not build a new runway until 2019 at the earliest.
In a statement, the airport said: “Our submission to the commission will be consistent with Gatwick’s commitment to the 1979 legal agreement with West Sussex County Council. That agreement prohibits Gatwick from constructing a new runway before 2019.”
Since its change of ownership in 2009 – when Gatwick was bought from BAA by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) – the airport has continued to safeguard the land that would be required for a new runway.
Meanwhile, in July 2012, Gatwick published its new master plan which outlined the detailed vision for the airport up to 2020. It also discussed the longer-term options for the airport including a scenario for a new runway.
Gatwick said that the new study would look in detail at the implications of a new runway and would cover all issues that will be relevant to the commission and the eventual policy decision by the government on airport expansion.
It will evaluate various runway options and assess key requirements, including environmental, surface access and economic impacts. Relevant environmental issues will include noise and air quality impacts on local communities.
Gatwick believes that the additional capacity, flexibility and resilience that could be provided by a new runway at Gatwick would help to ensure that London’s airports provide the South East and the UK with the connectivity they need.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport Limited, said: “Over the last three years we have transformed the airport, invested around £650 million and have a strong track record for delivering key routes to growth markets.
“However, we must now look to the future when Gatwick will become full and outline its long-term role in ensuring London has an efficient and resilient airport system that creates the crucial connectivity London and the UK needs.
“I believe a new runway at Gatwick could be affordable, practical and give passengers a greater choice of routes to key markets. A new runway will allow Gatwick to compete and grow, increasing the choice available to passengers today. We have the space, capability and access to financial resources.
“There are clear practical advantages of a new runway at Gatwick. When compared with a third runway at Heathrow, we would have a significantly lower environmental impact whilst adding significantly more capacity.
“Stansted is half empty today, we already have much better surface transport links and feel our business case will be much stronger. As for the Estuary airport concepts, there are major questions on affordability, environmental issues and whether they are deliverable.
“The process of evaluating the runway options will be complex. I am committed to undertaking a comprehensive and in-depth assessment that considers not only the economic benefits but also the environmental impacts. We will be consulting with our key stakeholders throughout the process.”