Commission shortlists Heathrow, Gatwick runway options

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New runway options at the London airports of Heathrow and Gatwick have been shortlisted by the UK Aviation Commission looking into tackling future capacity in the south-east of the country.

The interim findings of the Aviation Commission under Howard Davies, set up by the UK coalition government to study future airport capacity needs, conclude there is a need for one additional runway to operate in the south-east by 2030. It sees a second runway as likely by 2050.

The shortlist includes two options at Heathrow, one covering a new 3,500m runway to the northeast of the airport and the other extending the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m to enable it to operate as two independent runways. It is also taking forward Gatwick Airport's proposal for a new runway to the south of the existing runway.

It has not shortlisted any of the proposed new airport projects in the Thames Estuary citing "too many uncertainties and challenges surrounding them at this stage", though it will further study of the Isle of Grain option during the first half of next year before deciding if that option offers a "credible proposal" for consideration.

While it has not shortlisted expansion proposals at London Stansted or Birmingham, it says there is likely to be a case for considering them as potential options for any second new runway by 2050.

“The capacity challenge is not yet critical but it will become so if no action is taken soon and our analysis clearly supports the provision of one net additional runway by 2030," says commission chairman Davies. " The Commission will now focus on the challenge of appraising the three options, further assessing the case for a new airport in the Thames Estuary, and delivering a robust final recommendation to Government in summer 2015.”