The head of the Airports Commission has called on ministers to ignore “misguided” claims from Gatwick over issues such as noise pollution.
Howard Davies (pictured) has criticised Gatwick’s calculations as “over-simplistic and nonsense” and insisted that “limited weight should be places on the suggestion that air quality represents a significant obstacle to expansion”.
According to The Times Davies also attacked London mayor Boris Johnson, who has regularly spoken out against expansion at Heathrow, saying his analysis of air capacity was “flawed”.
The comments were made in letters to the Department for Transport and the London Assembly. Prime minister David Cameron has already promised a decision on which airport to choose for runway expansion by the end of the year.
Davies said it was “nonsense” that his commission has played down the noise impact an expanded Heathrow would have. Adding that up to 200,000 people could face less noise as a result of a third runway.
He was also insistent that the government was tackling pollution concerns at Heathrow too.
Gatwick chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said: “I am sure many people will be surprised that Sir Howard maintains that ‘limited weight’ should be placed on the issue of air quality as an obstacle to airport expansion.
“It is currently at illegal levels at Heathrow and it is hard to see how millions more car journeys with a third runway will not make it even worse. Only Gatwick can guarantee that the country gets the economic benefits that it needs from aviation expansion.”