London’s Gatwick Airport is a vital economic hub. The airport’s single runway and two terminals belie its importance to the UK’s economy. In 2019, almost 47 million passengers used its services for holidaying in Britain or flying to mainland Europe and beyond. Located two hours from central London and accessible by train or bus, the airport can deliver much-needed economic growth to the UK.
Concurrent with recognising its vital relevance for restoring the damaged UK economy, Gatwick’s management also accepts its responsibility for managing and offsetting the airport’s carbon emissions. In 2017, Gatwick management hired RSK to document the findings of a carbon management and climate change assessment as part of the airport’s new master plan.
This in-depth, technical project focused on a detailed examination of the single-runway airport’s development in three phases for different traffic-forecast scenarios. Phase 1 will account for Gatwick today, phase 2 sought to outline Gatwick’s near-term (to 2028) aims and phase 3 concerns the airport in the long term (to 2040). RSK’s specialists used Gatwick’s 2016 carbon reporting assessment to represent phase 1 baseline emissions. Similarly, the phase 2 and 3 carbon forecasting assessments prioritised specialist data forecasts provided by external consultants to ensure consistency across Gatwick’s wider master-plan assessment.
For phase 1, total emissions are forecast to decrease by about 1% by 2028 and 20% by 2040. In phase 2, we forecast that total emissions will increase slightly, by approximately 3% by 2028, but will decrease by about 17% by 2040. Total absolute carbon emissions for airport operations are forecast to remain stable in the near term, up to 2028. We forecast that phase 1’s total emissions per passenger will decrease by approximately 20% by 2028 and 41% by 2040. Phase 2’s total emissions per passenger are forecast to decrease by about 19% by 2028 and 40% by 2040. All forecasts are relative to the 2016 baseline statistics.
In assessing our final document, Gatwick’s management acknowledged that adapting to climate change is a key strategic issue that, alongside other corporate business risks, is critical to the airport’s successful long-term operation. Gatwick’s board also recognised that effective environmental risk management is critical to the airport’s future operation and capacity growth, which, in turn, is indispensable to the UK economy.