Gatwick claims momentum in runway battle

Latest poll shows Londoners back Gatwick over Heathrow

Gatwick has released the results of a new online poll that show that Londoners prefer a new runway at Gatwick instead of Heathrow.

Gatwick claims momentum in runway battleWith 2015 marking a crucial year when the Airports Commission will make its recommendation on the UK’s next runway, new polling figures released today show continued support for Gatwick expansion over Heathrow.

As the Airports Commission’s public consultation process moves into its final month, a YouGov poll of 1,036 Londoners shows that when given a straight choice of where to build a new runway, 45% chose Gatwick compared to 39% for Heathrow*.

The polling also shows that Londoners pick Gatwick over Heathrow in several key areas of the expansion debate including the lowest cost to the taxpayer, minimising air traffic over London, and greater competition and regeneration benefits. Londoners selected the “Negative impacts on quality of life for residents” as the single-most important issue of the expansion debate, with 37% choosing Gatwick as the better option on this issue versus 26% for Heathrow.

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: “In this crucial year for the expansion debate, the latest polling is a timely reminder of the growing support and momentum behind Gatwick as the right choice for the UK’s next runway.

“From greater competition and more destinations, to lower fares and less noise than Heathrow, the reasons for expanding Gatwick are compelling and numerous. By contrast, the taxpayer funds needed for Heathrow expansion give us 6 billion reasons why it is the wrong choice and the number of people to be newly affected by noise gives us hundreds of thousands more.

“After decades of delay, what is now needed above all is certainty – Gatwick’s plans offer the chance of spades in the ground and planes in the air quicker than Heathrow, with a scheme that can actually be delivered. If 2015 is finally to see an answer to this critical issue for the UK, Gatwick remains the best and obvious choice.”

The polling figures released today have been included in a list of “15 reasons for 2015” outlining why Gatwick is the obvious choice for the UK’s next runway:

1. Growing support and momentum: Where Heathrow has tried and failed for decades to expand, support and momentum has steadily been gathering behind Gatwick since it entered the expansion debate a year ago. The polling results released today show Londoners continue to back Gatwick*, while polling released in December also showed 5 separate groups backing Gatwick above Heathrow – from local residents and small businesses, to Londoners and local councillors.

2. Fewer people affected by noise: If Heathrow were to be expanded, 325,000 people will be newly affected (and almost a million overall) by noise in London; at Gatwick the comparable figure is 36,000 in total. In the latest polling, nearly half (49%) of Londoners said Gatwick expansion would be the better choice for minimising air traffic over central London compared to just 24% for Heathrow*

3. Lower fares for passengers: Expanding Gatwick will lead to more competition between airports which will drive down fares across the board. In the latest polling, 38% of Londoners said Gatwick expansion would create more competition between airports and airlines compared to only 26% picking Heathrow*

4. No digging up the M25: Heathrow expansion requires a new runway to be built across the M25 meaning Europe’s busiest motorway will have to be dug up and put in a tunnel, potentially leading to years of disruption to an already congested area. In the latest polling, some 70% of Londoners said disruption to the M25 would be an important issue in the runway debate*

5. An Olympic-style boost: Expansion at Gatwick would fuel regeneration where it is needed most, delivering an Olympic-scale boost for South London and parts of the South East. The latest polling results show that 40% of Londoners believe an expanded Gatwick would deliver greater regeneration benefits to the local area compared to just 25% for Heathrow*

6. The only deliverable solution: A Gatwick second runway would be delivered on already safeguarded land with the Airports Commission stating that “the delivery risks associated with the Gatwick scheme are relatively low”. This compares with the huge political, environmental and logistical challenges facing Heathrow which cast doubt on whether a third runway could ever be delivered.

7. No public money: Gatwick is not asking for an additional penny in taxpayer funding whereas the Airports Commission estimates Heathrow would need around £5.7bn of additional investment to pay for improvements to road and rail access if it expands.

8. Less pollution: Even with a second runway, Gatwick will continue to meet the legal air quality standards that are breached regularly at Heathrow today.

9. Lower cost: Gatwick’s expansion plan would be privately financed and cost less than half Heathrow’s plans.

10. More destinations: An expanded Gatwick will connect to 440 destinations, including important emerging markets, more than an expanded Heathrow can deliver.

11. More choice and better service: Service standards across airlines and airports will improve as a result of greater competition created by Gatwick expansion.

12. Economic boost: Gatwick’s plan provides the certainty that the extra capacity and economic boost the UK needs can actually be delivered.

13. Spades in the ground and planes in the air sooner: The Airports Commission agrees, Gatwick’s second runway will be operational by 2025

14. Better transport links: Gatwick is already the best connected airport and this will only improve – an expanded Gatwick will connect to 175 stations directly and more than 1,000 with just one change

15. Good neighbour: Gatwick will continue to be a good neighbour to local residents and has pledged more than £250 million in support for jobs and infrastructure and to help minimise and mitigate the effects of noise.

*Total sample size was 1,036 adults across the 32 boroughs of Greater London. Fieldwork was undertaken between 18th – 22nd December 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of London adults (aged 18+). The research was commissioned by Gatwick and carried out by YouGov – full results are available on YouGov’s website.

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