Gatwick Double-Glazing Pitch Seeks Noise Edge in Heathrow Battle

London Gatwick airport sought to put noise reduction at the center of a campaign to be chosen as the location for a new runway ahead of the U.K.’s Heathrow hub with a pledge to upgrade more than 1,000 homes with double glazing.

Gatwick will provide 3,000 pounds ($5,000) per house -- about 3 million pounds in total -- to fund measures including loft insulation and enhancements to windows and doors, the airport, owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, said today.

Gatwick’s campaign for local backing comes as Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, begins distributing booklets on its rival growth plan to 140,000 households and businesses. A government commission into runway capacity in southern England, led by Howard Davies, highlighted the two sites as best-suited to the expansion required to maintain London as a major air hub.

The Gatwick plan “takes into account both the increased sensitivity people have towards noise levels, as well as the frequency of how many times they might be overflown,” the airport said. While the extension of noise-control measures could double the number of homes involved to 2,000, some 70,000 would have to be covered if the same criteria were applied in Heathrow’s much more densely populated hinterland, it said.

Heathrow Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Colin Matthews said in a separate release that its six-week consultation beginning today will seek to determine what local people most value so that the expansion plan can be refined accordingly.

Noise Baseline

Heathrow revealed last month it was looking at shifting one proposed location for a third runway further south to reduce an overlap with the M25 highway that circles London and avoid destruction of historic buildings including a barn built in 1426 said to rival Westminster Abbey for architectural merit.

Even then, constructing an additional landing strip would involve demolishing 950 homes.

Gatwick said it has widened the catchment area for homes qualifying for insulation by setting the baseline at 60 Leq -- a measurement of decibel levels over an extended period -- rather than 66 Leq previously.

The noise contour has also been extended along flight paths by 15 kilometers (9 miles) east and west of the airport.

Gatwick, Europe’s busiest single-runway airport, said that with a second strip its noise would affect 11,800 people, less than 5 percent of the number already impacted by Heathrow today. It also argues that growth would be swifter and less costly than at Heathrow, which has broad airline backing.

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