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Gatwick Airport runway planning inquiry begins

Source: BBC

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A six-month inquiry into plans by Gatwick Airport to use its emergency runway for routine flights has begun.

The airport hopes to double capacity to 78 million passengers by making use of its existing northern runway. It said plans would create 14,000 jobs and provide a £1bn economic boost – but campaigners have voiced opposition.

Before the inquiry in Crawley, 10 councils have also raised concerns that the proposals will not ensure noise and air quality levels are not exceeded. In a joint statement on Monday, the authorities surrounding the airport added: “We also do not consider that the transport network has the capacity to meet the sustainable needs that will arise from the almost doubling of passengers using the airport.

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“We have been working together to ensure that if the proposal were to be approved, the required controls, mitigations and where appropriate, compensations are put in place to limit the environmental impacts and to maximise the economic and community benefits.”

Gatwick’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, previously told the BBC the existing main runway was routinely used for all landings and take-offs. He said the northern, or standby runway, which is also an emergency runway, was normally used as a taxiway.

“What we are proposing to do is to stop using that as a taxiway, and to start using that routinely to allow the take-off of the aircraft that routinely fly to and from Europe,” he said.

He said the runway would be used by “the sort of aircraft that EasyJet or Ryanair would fly”.

Countryside charity CPRE Sussex issued a statement expressing surprise that climate change was not among topics proposed for an issue-specific hearing during the inquiry. The charity has made a request for a hearing to look at the issue. Ben Benatt, climate campaigner and specialist in biodiversity, said it was important climate change was taken “fully into account”.

“I would reach out to the people here as human beings and people with families and children,” he said. “It is imperative this development does not go ahead.”

Sally Pavey, chairwoman of Cagne (Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions), said: “There are so many questions that need to be answered. Very little has changed since Gatwick was turned down in 2015 for a new runway and let’s be clear, this is a new runway.”

Campaigners from Cagne plan to be outside the inquiry as it enters its second day on Wednesday.

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