Does the election result make a second runway at Gatwick more likely?

PlaneLanding-AirQualityA press release from the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign evaluates the impact of the election on the prospects for a second runway at Gatwick. They say:

“All eleven MPs elected for the constituencies around Gatwick are opposed to a second runway. Most significant is the result from the marginal seat of Crawley (where a high proportion of the residents are employed directly or indirectly at the airport) – a dramatic win for the Conservative anti-runway candidate, the MP Henry Smith, but defeat for the pro-runway Labour candidate.

“According to Brendon Sewill, GACC chairman: ‘This solid bloc of eleven anti-runway MPs will make it difficult for the new Government to push through a new Gatwick runway without the support of some minor Parties but the Lib Dems, UKIP and the Greens are all opposed.’

“Another reason why a Gatwick runway looks less likely is the surprise announcement on polling day by the Airports Commission that they are to hold another consultation – on air quality. This is obviously the result of the decision by the Supreme Court that the UK must implement the EU limits on air quality. That would seem to rule out a third Heathrow runway, but it may also rule out a Gatwick runway. The EU law states that ‘Air quality status should be maintained where it is already good, or improved.’”

The main consultation period on airport expansion is now over, but the air quality consultation is open until 29th May 2015.

Most commentators seem to think that the air quality consultation raises significant problems for the building of a new runway at Heathrow and much fewer for Gatwick – in other words it makes the new runway more likely to come to Gatwick, and from glancing into the 206-page air quality report (accessible at the above web site), I would say that those commentators are probably right. Of course everyone can read the report and make up their own minds. Air quality will be only one of many factors in the eventual decision.

The airport commission’s report and recommendation was expected to be published in “the summer of 2015” – I don’t know if the air quality consultation will push this date back.