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Back regional airports rather than third Heathrow runway, business leaders urge May

Back regional airports rather than third Heathrow runway, business leaders urge May

🕔19.Sep 2016

The Prime Minister is being urged by business and political leaders across the West Midlands to back investment in regional airports rather than agree to a third runway at Heathrow.

In a letter to Mrs May, the region’s chambers of commerce and MPs point to the increasingly important national role Birmingham Airport will play when HS2 high speed rail services begin in 2026, providing a fast link to Heathrow and London.

The chief executives of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Marketing Birmingham and Birmingham Airport, as well as other businesses representatives, chambers, and local enterprise partnerships say it is vital that the Government supports a “competitive network of airports across the UK rather than an expanded hub in the South East”.

They warn:

Allowing a third runway at Heathrow would re-forge its monopoly, undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of the BAA, and restrict the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities.

The 29 signatories to the letter urge the prime minister to consider the impact on all UK airports when making decisions on airport capacity in the South East, “ensuring that any such decision allows for a competitive market in which airports can act as drivers for local growth in their regions”.

Mrs May is expected to announce next month whether the Government is in favour of a third runway at Heathrow, as recommended by the Airports Commission, or will opt for a new runway at Gatwick instead.

Civil servants may also considering expanding Birmingham Airport as an alternative option.

It has been reported that Treasury Minister Jim O’Neill believes the HS2 link and greater connectivity between Birmingham and London could make a third Heathrow runway unnecessary.

The letter to the Prime Minister in full:

Dear Prime Minister,

We write to welcome your backing of the Midlands Engine and to ask you to ensure that the region is not damaged by the forthcoming decision on extra runway capacity in the South East.

The West Midlands is a significant part of the Midlands Engine, an economy worth £222 billion and where, in 2015, private sector jobs grew three times faster than in London and the South East. The West Midlands is home to Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city and to Birmingham Airport, the third largest UK airport outside London. Birmingham Airport plays an integral role in the transport strategy of the Midlands, providing international connectivity to the region’s flourishing manufacturing sector, and supporting the West Midlands’ status as the leading export centre of the UK outside London and the South East.

The connectivity provided by Birmingham Airport contributed £1.1 billion GVA and over 25,000 jobs to the West Midlands economy in 2014. The Airport is a key driver of jobs creation and economic growth, and its contribution to the economy is expected to increase as its connectivity increases. As of this July, the Airport has experienced seventeen consecutive months of passenger growth including 32.8% long haul growth compared to July 2015.

Birmingham Airport is also central to maximising the benefits of HS2. With HS2’s arrival in ten years, the airport will become the UK’s first high-speed connected airport and its catchment area will be dramatically enlarged into central London, giving it an increasingly national role.

To support this continued growth in our region and to maximise the benefits of HS2, it is vital that the Government supports a competitive network of airports across the UK rather than an expanded hub in the South East. Allowing a third runway at Heathrow would re-forge its monopoly, undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of the BAA, and restrict the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities.

The Midlands Engine could grow up to £34 billion by 2030 if the government continues to make decisions in view of rebalancing the UK economy. We therefore urge the Government to consider the impact on all UK airports when making its decision on airport capacity in the South East, ensuring that any such decision allows for a competitive market in which airports can act as drivers for local growth in their regions.

Yours sincerely

Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive, Birmingham Airport

Steve Brittain, Managing Director, BSA Technologies Ltd.

Jonathan Browning, Chairman, C&W LEP

John Callaghan, Principal, Solihull College

Simon Chapman, Managing Director, Yee Group

Rick Grain, Founder/Owner, Effigy Blinds Ltd.

Colin Leighfield, Director, B.E. Wedge

Tim Pile, Executive Chairman, Cogent Elliot

Neil Rami, Chief Executive, Marketing Birmingham

Bernard Shepherd, Consultant, Clark Brookes Turner Carey Solicitors

Joan Smith, Director, Solihull Chamber of Commerce

Stewart Towe, Chairman, Black Country Consortium (LEP)

Chris Wheeler, Auditel

Adrian Wright, President, Black Country Chamber of Commerce

Ian Austin, Member of Parliament for Dudley North

Jeremy Lefroy, Member of Parliament for Stafford

Karen Lumley, Member of Parliament for Redditch

Khalid Mahmood, Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Perry Barr         

Steve McCabe, Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Selly Oak  

James Morris, Member of Parliament for Halesowen and Rowley Regis

Rt Hon Gisela Stuart, Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Edgbaston

Mike Wood, Member of Parliament for Dudley South

Valerie Vaz, Member of Parliament for Walsall South

James Carver, Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands

Anthea McIntyre, Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands

Sion Simon, Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands

Baroness Burt of Solihull

Baroness Kramer 

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