FSB Sussex Area Leader, Geoff Williamson (pictured left) attended the Gatwick business forum to hear the airport’s plans for the future. This followed the recent extensive consultation on its proposed masterplan: a 12-weeks period which saw over 5,000 responses from local residents, community groups, businesses, airlines, local and national politicians and other key partners. 66% of respondents supported Gatwick making best use of its existing runways – a policy in line with current Government policy. Geoff is pictured with Jeremy Taylor (right), whose firm, the Company Connector, led the consultation process on behalf of the Airport.
Gatwick is the south east’s gateway for UK tourism and provides a £7.2 billion boost to trade. It delivers £2.7 billion of economic activity and 71,000 direct and indirect jobs. The Forum heard that whilst it serves 46.4million passengers annually and 230 global destinations – more than any other UK airport - Gatwick’s cargo tonnage also increased by 11.4% in 2019.
Gatwick’s masterplan aims to bring continued sustainable growth by using new technology to build capacity and resilience on the main runway; bring the existing northern runway into routine use for departures only, alongside the main runway by the mid- 2020s; and, recommends that planning policy continues to safeguard land for an additional runway. This plan will deliver between 10 and 15 additional hourly aircraft movements in peak hours, which could help Gatwick deliver up to 70 million passengers by 2032. The airport is forecasting nearly £2bn of value added economic benefit and another 20,000 jobs across the UK. It will be privately financed.
Responding to environmental concerns, the forum heard that the plans will have a similar noise level to today, through the introduction of new, quieter aircraft technology, which are already having a positive impact. Indeed, Gatwick’s ambition is to be the UK’s most sustainable airport. It is the first carbon neutral London airport with zero waste to landfill and a reduced environmental footprint since 2010, using 10% less energy, 30% less water and Gatwick’s assets producing 50% less carbon emissions.
Earlier this year, FSB were pleased to hear of the £150million Gatwick train station upgrade and planned improvements in rail services, walking routes and bus facilities. Geoff Williamson commented: “Gatwick airport is a catalyst for economic growth in the south east and provides vital transport links that connect the region. Its train station is used by one million regular commuters who live locally: affluent customers who support local businesses. Also, whilst the spine of the M23/A23 provides excellent strategic north-south connections, it is imperative we use Gatwick’s leverage for improvements east-west on the A27 route.”
FSB continues to be consulted and involved: a key business partner as the Gatwick airport masterplan moves forward.