Plans to open Gatwick's emergency runway for regular use will be opposed by the city’s council.

The Labour administration in Brighton and Hove has signalled it will not support the proposal, which would increase capacity at the airport to 75 million passengers per year by 2038, up from 46 million before the pandemic.

In a report being presented to Brighton and Hove City Council’s culture, heritage, sport, tourism and economic development committee next week, councillors will express concern over the wider implications of the proposal.

Among the concerns raised include the impact on climate change, given the council’s commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Council leader Bella Sankey said: “We support vital investment in our regional transport infrastructure but every investment, particularly of this scale, must be judged on whether it meets key tests that realise the seriousness of the climate crisis and the direct impact on our city.

“As a council, we have declared a climate emergency and aim to become a carbon neutral city by 2030. We’re also signed up to the Charter for Clean Air and committed to improving air quality.

“Supporting Gatwick’s proposal to bring its second runway without key climate change tests being met would contradict these aims.

“We are clear that any airport expansion must pass our tests on air quality, noise pollution and delivering economic benefits while enabling us to meet our obligations on climate change. The proposal for Gatwick at present does not meet those tests.”

Councillor Alan Robins, chairman of the culture, heritage, sport, tourism and economic development committee, said the council could not “in all good conscience” support the airport’s expansion “knowing the environmental impact that would have”.

He said: “There is no doubt that our visitor economy in the city benefits from our excellent transport links nationally and internationally, including its close proximity to Gatwick Airport.

“We will continue to work with the airport to identify how the city and region can work together on tourism for mutual benefit in a sustainable way.”

Should the plans for a second runway be approved, construction could start in 2025 and be completed by the end of the decade.

The airport said an additional runway, which would be used for smaller departing aircraft, would boost economic growth, add additional capacity and improve operational performance for passengers and airlines.

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: "Our Northern Runway plans would deliver 14,000 new UK-based jobs and inject £1 billion into the economy of the South East every year.

"Our plans would also benefit many communities across the South East by providing new economic and business opportunities as well as benefits for tourism and international trade.

"We recognise the climate emergency and the need for the whole aviation industry to act to reach net zero by 2050.

"To that end, we accelerated our plans to achieve net zero for airport emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 2030 and will invest over £250 million so that we achieve this ten years ahead of our previous target.

"The government is also committed to work with airlines to ensure they meet a trajectory of reducing carbon emissions to get to net zero (2050) through measures including airspace modernisation; Sustainable Aviation Fuel, electric, hydrogen and hybrid aircraft and setting carbon budgets for airlines."

Gatwick is Europe’s busiest single-runway airport, with more than 32.8 million passengers travelling through it last year.