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Gatwick expansion could replace Heathrow as priority, warns airport planner

An effective case for expanding Gatwick before Heathrow could be made if the role of airports changes, a leading academic who specialises in airport planning has claimed.


There is a strong economic case for allowing Gatwick to build a second runway before Heathrow builds its third under a future model where airports become “transport providers”, Cranfield University senior lecturer in airport planning and management Henrik Rothe has claimed.


Rothe leads the Urban Turbine project, a design lead research project pursuing airports' responses to societal changes. He made the claim during his guest appearance on the second episode of New Civil Engineer's podcast, The Engineers Collective.


He said: “In the long-term airports need to reconsider their position within the transport industry. If they become transport providers for people who are flying into a city to take them to the place they want to be, then we are talking about a different model that is probably 20 years ahead.


“The challenge we have right now is that there is a terrible amount of infrastructure around Heathrow which disallows us from thinking Heathrow can be left out of further infrastructure development.


“But if there is an opportunity to check-in at Heathrow and fly out from Gatwick that would be a very smart movement. It would disperse noise and emissions from aircraft without taking business away from Heathrow.


London mayor Sadiq Khan has also already expressed support for expanding Gatwick instead of Heathrow on the grounds that it could boost the UK economy without causing air pollution problems. He says it would be cheaper and quicker to expand Gatwick.


Earlier this year, three other politicians leading the charge against the proposed third runway at Heathrow also called for alternative airport expansions.


Speaking to New Civil Engineer outside the High Court in London, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith and Liberal Democrat Baroness Kramer called for alternatives to airport expansions at Heathrow.


McDonnell and Goldsmith favour expanding regional airports and Gatwick. Kramer wants Birmingham airport to be expanded.


Episode 2 of the Engineers Collective also explores ongoing debate about the case for building High Speed 2, debates the decision to cancel the £1.4bn bypass of the M4 around Newport, and presses the case for more investment in Northern Powerhouse rail and challenges the three-year closure of London's historic Hammersmith Bridge.

Source: New Civil Engineer

2 July 2019