A second runway could be built at London Gatwick as it looks to compete with its cross-city rival hub Heathrow.

Detailed plans will be drawn up for the government to approve, and Gatwick is looking to capitalise on the fact that any expansion at Heathrow has been ruled out for the foreseeable future.

At the moment, Gatwick cannot open a new runway before 2019 but it is hoping to start detailed work on the plans in order for them to be presented before the Commission on Aviation Connectivity which is chaired by Sir Howard Davies, with planning permission being granted after the next election has taken place.

"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," said chief executive of Gatwick Airport Stewart Wingate.

He added that a new runway at Gatwick will be "affordable, practical and give passengers a greater choice of routes to key markets".

Comparing this construction to a third runway at Heathrow, Mr Wingate said that there would be a lower environmental impact at Gatwick whilst adding more capacity.

Gatwick's surface transport links are also very good and therefore the business case for this project will be very strong, he noted.

"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."

However, the plans have been criticised by Brendon Sewill of the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, who said that there will be no proper space for planes and a new terminal between the runways "unless they're demolishing part of Crawley".

Mr Sewill also claimed that the group was opposed on environmental grounds too and does not believe that this new runway should be built until Stansted is full, however this is a long way off.
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