The site that Gatwick airport now occupies used to be a base used by the Royal Air Force during World War Two, but since then it has grown in size and significance. Currently, Gatwick airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the seventh busiest international airport in the world. While these statistics may seem mildly impressive for an airport located near the capital city in one of the world’s most developed countries, it is worth noting that Gatwick airport has only one runway, which in turn makes it the busiest single runway in the entire world. Operating one runway has been seen by some as a cause for concern, calling for expansion to keep up with demand and tourism. However there are those that rally against this cause, claiming that it will harm the surrounding areas.
The Fight For Change
The plans for changes to Gatwick airport are currently being gathered, but they will not be able to be implemented until 2019 as the site is currently under obligation not to expand. With plans to make the airport changes both ‘affordable and practical’, the site wants to rival Heathrow, the larger London based rival.
Seeing as there are a plethora of airports in the surrounding area and the fact that Gatwick is fully equipped with great airport parking to meet its demand, why are there calls for controversial change and what are the protesters concerned about?
Part of the concern lies with the fact that building another runway would lead to the need of a third terminal. Currently the airport has a North and South Terminal, the latter of which is integrated with the rail system. The land set aside for the expansive building work, which would have to make room for the new runway and third terminal, currently contains some residential houses as well as seventeen listed buildings. While this is a small figure compared to the large amount of houses at risk over the expansion of Heathrow, there is also an environmental concern. Surrounding areas will have to be tested for noise pollution, the airport does not want to have to impose a curfew on surrounding residents.
London officials are also wary of change. While acknowledging the fact that London has to connect with the rest of the world in the best way possible, it seems that many want one central hub with plenty of connections, rather than scattering the focus too thinly. Given the density of the south-east population, though, expanding an airport is always going to be met with opposition.
For tourists, the airport is always a favourite. Car parking at Gatwick is easy and convenient, as those using a Gatwick airport car park can leave their vehicle at reception, and arrange for it to be dropped off on their return. Manual parking is also available.