The odds on Gatwick being chosen by the Government as the location for the new South East runway have been cut by several bookmakers, following Theresa May’s appointment as Prime Minister, and the appointment of her new cabinet.
Several of her ministers are known to oppose expansion at Heathrow – notably Boris Johnson and Justine Greening. This, together with Ms may’s previous vote against expansion at Heathrow when the last Labour government pushed through approval of a third runway, has been taken by Betway as a reason to install Gatwick as the new favourite at 4:7 on.
Heathrow is not far behind, at 5:4, so it’s not a market on which we would advise anyone betting – the returns are unlikely to justify the risk either way. However, this could be an indicator that sentiment is shifting in Gatwick’s direction. Earlier this month, Sadiq Khan, newly elected Mayor of London, gave Gatwick his backing, so you could certainly say momentum seems to be building.
Expansion at Gatwick would bring great benefits for the Gatwick Diamond economy – it would produce a large number of jobs, and give companies based in the area better international connections and opportunities.
It would, of course, bring its challenges too. The 1.3m sq ft of business space that would be lost on Manor Royal would need to be replaced twice over, road and rail will need investment to deal with increased traffic, and more new homes than are currently planned would be needed. This would be dealing with success though, and preferable to the decline that might occur if the decision goes Heathrow’s way.
The best we can hope for is a decision. The track record of the Cameron Government was very poor on making this particular decision, it is to be fervently hoped that Theresa May can do better.