Gatwick Airport will tomorrow launch its six-week public consultation on proposals for a second runway to be built there.

The consultation on the three options being considered for the 3.4 km second runway at the UK's second biggest airport and the busiest single-runway airport in the world, will open at The Hawth in Crawley, with the first of 16 public exhibitions running from 11am to 3.30pm.

The exhibition is expected to be crowded with many local residents turning out to view the display boards and talk to teams on hand from Gatwick and the Airports Commission.

Over the next six weeks, the same exhibition is due to be mounted in towns and villages around the Gatwick area, including Horley, Horsham and East Grinstead.

Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) has said feedback from the public consultation will help improve its second runway proposal to the Airports Commission.

The consultation will run until Friday, May 16.

The issue has already sparked heated arguments on both sides with the Gatwick Diamond Business forum among those vocal with support, and the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) among those set against.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer of London Gatwick, said: “We are keen to encourage as many local people as possible to respond to our consultation, as this feedback will have a key role in helping us to refine our runway proposals.

“The consultation is a chance for the local community to find out more about our proposals, ask questions and have their say on our plans for a second runway.” Gatwick is consulting on three options: Option 1 is a new runway 585m south of the existing runway, Option 2 would be 1,045m to the south, and Option 3 is also 1,045m to the south, but with the two runways being used independently.

Under Options 1 or 2, one runway would used for landings and the other for take-offs. Under Options 2 or 3, a new terminal would also be built between the runways.

Gatwick has established Option 3 as the preferred first choice. The Airports Commission focused on this option for last December’s Interim Report, describing it as offering “the greatest increase in capacity while still having relatively low environmental and noise impacts compared with some other potential sites.” GAL stated it will use the consultation responses to conclude on the option it prefers, before asking the Airports Commission to take that option forward as part of its evaluation process and subsequent advice to the Government in the summer of 2015. People can respond, get more information and details of where the public exhibitions will be held at: The public exhibitions will be held next week at Ghyll Manor Hotel, Rusper, on Monday, April 7, at the Centenary Hall, Smallfield, on Tuesday, April 8, at Ifield Community College, Ifield, on Wednesday, April 9, and at the Pavilion Suite at Lingfield Park Racecourse, Lingfield, on Friday, April 11 – all between 4pm and 7.30pm.