Aviation strategy

Aviation policy in the UK is currently changing. View the Government's Aviation Policy Framework.

The government appointed an independent Airports Commission chaired by Sir Howard Davies to assess whether the UK needs additional runway capacity and the nature, scale and timing of that need.

The Airports Commission's interim report (December 2013) stated that the South East needs one net additional runway by 2030 and shortlisted two options at Heathrow and one option at Gatwick for a new runway. A national public consultation has taken place on these options and closed on 3 February 2015. An option of a new airport in the Inner Thames Estuary was subjected to further feasibility work but was ruled out as a viable option by the Airports Commission in September 2014 and was not added to the shortlist alongside Heathrow and Gatwick.

A final recommendation by the Airports Commission on the preferred option for airport expansion was made to the Government in summer 2015, which favoured the proposal of a Northwest runway at Heathrow rather than additional capacity at Gatwick. The response from Government to this recommendation is expected this year.

Our view on aviation is set out in Facing the aviation challenge. However, on reviewing the evidence of noise impacts across West Kent, Cabinet decided to oppose a second runway at Gatwick.

Our response to the Airports Commission consultation (PDF, 533.5 KB) states our opposition to a second runway at Gatwick.

We have engaged with the work of the Airports Commission and robustly opposes proposals for a new airport in the Thames Estuary and a second runway at Gatwick. As an alternative, Kent County Council supports better use of existing airports, including regional airports, improved surface access to airports by rail, and expansion of existing airport infrastructure (with the exception of a second runway at Gatwick, which it opposes) in order to meet the UK's aviation needs.

Facing the Aviation Challenge also supports the Airports Commission's recommendation for an independent noise authority; and that measures are taken to properly measure, minimise and mitigate the noise impacts of existing airport operations and airport expansion.

The government sets a night flights quota for Gatwick and Kent County Council responded to the Department for Transport consultation on night flights, urging for a reduction.

  • Read Kent County Council's submission to the Department for Transport consultation on night flights (PDF, 55.7 KB)
  • In addition, the UK's airspace is currently being modernised to take account of new navigation technology as part of the Government's Future Airspace Strategy. The London Airspace Consultation proposes changes to Gatwick's flight paths that result in a concentration of flights along the fewest number of routes. This is in line with government policy to reduce the absolute numbers of people affected by aircraft noise. We believe that the burden of over-flight should be shared more equitably through the provision of multiple routes that gives communities under flight paths a break from being over-flown all of the time.

    A letter was also sent to the Chief Executive of Gatwick Airport Ltd.

    In response to the feedback from the consultation, Gatwick Airport and National Air Traffic Services (NATS) have deferred making these changes and will re-design their proposal. The regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will decide whether to approve or reject the proposed new flight paths.

    Kent County Council is also talking with NATS, CAA and Gatwick Airport Ltd to address the way that air traffic control directs flights over Kent to reduce the noise impacts that have become unacceptable in recent times.