Gatwick Airport has appointed a top construction project manager to ensure work on a second runway can start immediately, should the Government give it the go-ahead.
The Airports Commission is considering Heathrow and Gatwick for expansion and Gatwick’s new director of development Raymond Melee will prepare the way for Gatwick’s bid so work can start as soon as possible after achieving necessary permissions.
Mr Melee, who has almost 30 years’ experience building airports, will also be taking forward a £1bn investment programme to improve the existing airport infrastructure.
He said: “The UK has been debating a new runway in the South East for decades and there is little time left for talk. More capacity is urgently needed and, from a construction perspective, Gatwick’s plans are comparatively low risk and have few complex hurdles to overcome. Gatwick expansion is the most deliverable option and will deliver more passengers and destinations earlier, while boosting choice and competition at a fraction of the cost, complexity, and environmental impact of expansion at Heathrow.”
The announcement comes as a pressure group called on the commission to withdraw Gatwick Airport’s bid.
In a formal complaint Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions (CAGNE) claimed the airport had not consulted residents in accordance with the commission’s appraisal framework.
Group chairman Sally Pavey said: “Gatwick has deliberately avoided open consultation with its most important stakeholders – local residents.
“We’ve now discovered that all this time they’ve actively encouraged Heathrow’s local authorities to support a second runway. It’s unethical and must be challenged.”
A Gatwick Airport spokesman said they ‘regularly engaged’ with councils, community groups and representatives and highlighted the fact they held a six-week consultation on the runway plan. This involved writing to 180,000 homes and businesses and holding 17 public exhibitions.
He added: “No other shortlisted option ran a similar consultation, and further public consultations will take place if Gatwick is selected as the location for a new runway.
“We are very enthusiastic about the merits of our case and have talked with a large number of different groups up and down the country about the prospects for Gatwick, including with authorities around Heathrow that have a very legitimate interest in the runway debate.”