In the clearest statement on the subject so far, Francis Maude has said that the Government will not give permission for another runway at Gatwick.
Last week, the airport’s owners confirmed reports that they were carrying out a detailed study into whether a new runway is viable.
Gatwick Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate has admitted that the issue is ‘complex’, but said: “I believe a new runway at Gatwick could be affordable, practical and give passengers a greater choice of routes to key markets.”
The study’s findings will be handed to the Independent Commission on Aviation Connectivity, in the hope that the commission will put the plan forward in its final recommendations to the Government in 2015.
Transport Minister Simon Burns has said that the commission’s role is ‘to identify and recommend the options for maintaining this country’s status as a global hub for aviation’.
This week, Horsham MP Francis Maude told the County Times: “Gatwick may now be looking at options for a second runway but apart from that, nothing has changed – local MPs, local councils and many local residents remain totally opposed; the Coalition Government is steadfast in their opposition and will refuse permission for it.
“There are many arguments against – noise and environmental concerns, to name just two – on top of that, Gatwick is not yet operating at its existing full capacity.
“I’ll continue to monitor developments but remain totally opposed.’’
Gatwick Airport has stated that its plans would not contravene an agreement with West Sussex County Council, dating back to 1979, that they would not build a new runway until 2019 at the earliest.