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Gatwick to spend millions to prevent flood fiasco repeat

Gatwick Airport’s chief executive has told MPs that he will spend millions to protect any future second runway and the airport’s north terminal from flooding after severe weather forced its partial closure on Christmas Eve.

Stewart Wingate told the transport select committee that he was willing to make “whatever investment is necessary” on flood defences for the north terminal after floods on Christmas Eve meant some flights were moved to the south terminal or cancelled.

He said the airport had spent £20m on flood alleviation work at the south terminal, which he said had been deemed to be at far greater risk of flooding than the north terminal.

He said: “Going forward we will make whatever investment is necessary to protect the north terminal and electrical resilience of the facility.”

He added: “Any plans for a second runway would absolutely assume that the buildings [and the runway] were protected to a similar degree from flooding.”

He said Gatwick had relied on risk assessments of the likelihood of flooding at the airport from the Environment Agency and would work further with them on this.

One of Gatwick’s non-executive directors, David McMillan, is carrying out a review of the incident which will be published in February.

At the same hearing, Network Rail assured the committee that it would not cut back on planned investment in the railway in order to fund repairs to storm damaged areas.

Dave Ward, route managing director for London and South East at Network Rail, told the committee that Network Rail would “not pull any work or any budgets”. It will talk to the Office of Rail Regulation about funding for any spending on unforeseeable storm damage that was not covered by insurance, he said.

He said he did not yet have a figure for the cost of the damage, which is still occurring as the weather continues to be stormy, but said it was likely to be “millions if not tens of millions” for the rail industry.

He said more than 10,000 extra man hours had gone into efforts to restore the network, such as clearing trees and draining flooded sites.

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