Gatwick top option for expansion

Gatwick the most popular option for expansion

An interim report by the Airports Commission has recently shortlisted two options for expansion at Heathrow and a second runway at Gatwick, which has undeniably caused controversy. Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith threatened to force a by-election over Heathrow expansion, while Boris Johnson tried to keep his preferred option of a new hub airport in the Thames estuary alive.

Despite the heated discussion, our research shows that the public are supportive of the policy of airport expansion. We gave respondents five options for expansion (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and a new Thames estuary airport) and asked if they supported or opposed each option. For all five, each received more support than opposition, although the enthusiasm isn?t high. For example, 30% said they supported a third or fourth runway at Heathrow, with 21% opposed.


The most interesting results were from London and south eastern England. 37% supported Heathrow expansion, with 23% opposed. Gatwick expansion was the most popular choice, with 42% supporting a second runway and only 17% opposed.

Unfortunately for the Mayor, ?Boris Island? is the least popular option locally and nationally ? where only 27% support the proposed estuary airport with 23% opposed. In the South East region, 33% are opposed, with 32% supporting it, making it the only option not clearly supported by local people.


On principle, the public more or less accepts the economic arguments for expansion. Half (51%) thought that air capacity needs to increase or the economy will suffer, while only one in six (16%) thought that any increase in air capacity should not go ahead.

However, perhaps not too surprisingly considering airports and runways don?t always get everyone excited, almost six in ten (58%) thought the current debate about expansion didn?t really affect them or their family. This was lower in London and the surrounding regions, although still high at 49%.

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,004 Uk adults aged 18+ from 18th to 23rd December 2013. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.