- Transport Minister confirms airports must pay for road and rail improvements
- This adds £6 billion to the price tag for Heathrow expansion
- Gatwick has already committed to paying for any improvements needed
Gatwick today challenged Heathrow to explain how it would meet the new £6bn black hole in its expansion plans.
This follows confirmation by the Government yesterday that they will not meet the costs for road and rail improvements that are required ‘as a direct result of airport expansion’.
Yesterday in Parliament – responding to a question tabled by Adam Afriyie MP – Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said:
“In terms of surface access proposals, the Government has been clear that it expects the scheme promoter to meet the costs of any surface access proposals that are required as a direct result of airport expansion and from which they will directly benefit.”
Gatwick has confirmed that it will meet any additional surface access costs and will be road and rail ready for a second runway by 2021. Heathrow has already ruled out paying the £6 billion bill for road and rail work required to expand Heathrow, including tunnelling the M25.
Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport, said today.
“There is now a £6bn black hole at the heart of Heathrow’s plan. Heathrow has said it won’t meet the bill and the now the Government has done the same.
“As we approach a decision on expansion, Heathrow owes taxpayers, passengers, airlines and Government an explanation of how they plan to meet it as this cost increase alone is almost the entire cost of the Gatwick scheme.
“In stark contrast Gatwick’s plan is financeable and deliverable with none of the environmental challenges that would effectively make expansion at Heathrow unlawful.
“It is becoming clearer by the day that if we actually want something to be built and Britain to get the benefits then Gatwick is the only credible option.”
Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second largest airport and the most efficient single-runway airport in the world. It serves more than 200 destinations in 90 countries for around 38 million passengers a year on short and long-haul point-to-point services. It is also a major economic driver for the South-East region, generating around 21,000 on-airport jobs and a further 10,000 jobs through related activities. The airport is 28 miles south of London with excellent public transport links, including the Gatwick Express. Gatwick Airport is owned by a group of international investment funds, of which Global Infrastructure Partners is the largest shareholder.
In its December 2013 interim report, the Airports Commission included London Gatwick and Heathrow on its shortlist of potential locations for a new runway in the UK. Expansion at Gatwick will best meet the UK’s aviation needs for the future, can provide the greatest economic boost with the least environmental impact, and a new runway can be operational by 2025.