Gatwick has denied having any plans to expand to a three-runway airport in response to claims made by campaigners.
Leaders from a number of councils in West Sussex and Surrey have argued the airport is moving ‘far too fast’ in its proposals to bring its stand-by runway into full-time use.
The Government is currently moving ahead with plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which was chosen as the preferred option ahead of a second runway at Gatwick.
But today Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) claimed the West Sussex airport would be announcing not just growth from one runway, but expansion plans for a three-runway airport on July 18.
However this has been dismissed by the airport, with a spokesman saying: “Gatwick does not have plans for a three-runway airport.
“Our draft masterplan, which was consulted on earlier this year, outlined that we continue to safeguard land identified for an additional runway by the previous Government, as it has been since 2003, which is in the long-term national interest. As part of this, we made it clear that we will not actively pursue an additional new runway at Gatwick.
“We continue to be led by Government policy around ‘making best use of existing runways’ and therefore our draft masterplan concentrates on how we could optimise our main runway and potentially bring our existing standby runway into routine use.”
CAGNE, an umbrella community group covering Sussex and Surrey, has criticised the airport for not paying heed to the impact extra aircraft movements will have both on nearby residents and the environment.
Sally Pavey, chair of CAGNE, said: “Aviation is one of the biggest threats our planet faces today and Gatwick Airport management now make it very clear that they have no regard for the damage they are, and will do, to the planet or the massive noise increases their plans will have on the residents of Sussex, Surrey and Kent.”
The group argues that any huge expansion of Gatwick would lead to a decline in air quality, push businesses out of the area, force mass housebuilding and overload amenities and services.