Gatwick airport is not only planning growth from its existing runway but will announce preparations for expansion to three runways later this month, according to claims from a community group.

Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE) said over the weekend it believes the airport will outline the scheme on 18 July as part of its masterplan.

Earlier this year, Gatwick closed a public consultation on plans to use its emergency runway as a secondary landing strip in order to boost capacity – something the airport says is needed. It has also been considering safeguarding land south of the airport to use in the event of expansion, but CAGNE believes it will use the space to build a third runway.

Chair Sally Pavey said: “This would show a total disregard for the current aircraft noise issues that communities of Sussex, Surrey and Kent are suffering. As well as a total lack of understanding of public attitude concerning the damage man is burdening future generations with – global warming and pollution of our planet.”

CAGNE claims a second runway would bring with it a 36 per cent increase in air movements at the airport, while a third would make way for 850,000 flights per year, ‘dispelling’ any CO2 reductions brought about by more efficient aircraft and flight paths.

The group called aviation the “big elephant in the room” when it comes to conversations about climate change and the impact of carbon emissions, with Pavey labelling proposed axpansion at Gatwick “egotistic and business greedy”.

According to CAGNE, a return flight between Gatwick and New York produces 2.4 tonnes of CO2 emissions per passenger – the same as five rail journeys around the world or a six-minute shower once a day for 12 years.

The claims follow CAGNE’s recent campaign urging travellers to ‘fly less’ and be more conscious about the emissions created by flights.

Gatwick claimed in December that nearly three-quarters of residents in the surrounding areas supported expansion at the airport.

The airport has denied CAGNE’s claims, telling the Crawley and Horley Observer that its master plan only focuses on making better use of its existing runway and the possibility of utilising its emergency runway.

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