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Bigger Birmingham Airport and HS2 could provide ‘supersonic boost’ – council leader

Bigger Birmingham Airport and HS2 could provide ‘supersonic boost’ – council leader

🕔25.Oct 2016

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has confirmed that the Government is backing a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

In published statement this morning and in a statement to the House of Commons, there was no mention of Birmingham Airport.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

I think it very likely it will be stopped.

The MP who tried to succeed Johnson as London Mayor, Zac Goldsmith, will resign his Richmond seat in the Commons.

The Transport Secretary said:

The step that government is taking today is truly momentous. I am proud that after years of discussion and delay this government is taking decisive action to secure the UK’s place in the global aviation market – securing jobs and business opportunities for the next decade and beyond.

A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities. This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights.

This is an important issue for the whole country. That is why the government’s preferred scheme will be subject to full and fair public consultation. Of course it is also hugely important for those living near the airport. That is why we have made clear that expansion will only be allowed to proceed on the basis of a world class package of compensation and mitigation worth up to £2.6 billion, including community support, insulation, and respite from noise – balancing the benefits and the impacts of expansion.

John Clancy, leader of Birmingham city council, responded to the announcement about a third runway for Heathrow Airport by putting the case for making more of Birmingham Airport.

Cllr Clancy said:

Significant redevelopment of Birmingham Airport simply has to happen for Birmingham and the West Midlands to achieve its goal of delivering inclusive economic growth across the region – that is jobs and homes for all citizens.

Our airport is already one of our key anchor economic institutions with a catchment area that is home to the largest share of manufacturing activity anywhere in the UK, with 15,000 firms exporting their goods across the world from Birmingham.

But we have to and can do much more to grow our airport and deliver a game-changing boost to the Birmingham and West Midlands’ economy. We are at cruising speed now, but nothing less than a supersonic jobs and wealth boost will do for this region.

As a region, we must now develop our own plans for Birmingham Airport and HS2, to connect the West Midlands to global opportunities.

In ten years’ time, Birmingham is going to be the first and only UK airport with a high speed train service on the doorstep, and travel times linking Birmingham and London will be around 40 minutes.

Our airport connects 11 million people a year to the UK and the world and, when HS2 arrives, we will play an increasing national role. We are working together as a region on an ambitious plan to maximise the benefits of HS2, and ensure our airport can respond to the growing demand it is experiencing today and the extra demand high speed rail will bring.

We are developing an exciting vision for the UK’s first fully integrated transport hub at the HS2 station, with travel options, architecture and ambition that eclipses anything else in Europe.

A bigger, better airport will help Birmingham and the West Midlands to get its advanced manufacturing products across the globe in a post-Brexit world. It will help us expand the importance of life sciences and bring new capital to invest in Birmingham. Crucially, it will make it easier for international companies and wealth producers to do business in the West Midlands.

On its own, a major redevelopment of Birmingham Airport is a huge infrastructure project creating many new high-quality skilled jobs. But we cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that If Birmingham Airport’s infrastructure allowed, it could be serving around 55 million passengers per year by 2050, providing an enormous boost to the economy, many times more than the £1.7bn a year it delivers today. This is an opportunity that our region cannot afford to turn down.

That is a goal that must be delivered if we are serious about growing the West Midlands economy and creating jobs.

Andy Street, Conservative candidate to be the first West Midlands mayor said:

Businesses across the region are very clear on their desire for an expanded Birmingham airport.

We certainly have momentum as, unlike Heathrow, we currently have under-utilised capacity and thus we can grow now.

The airport’s leadership are already exploiting this opportunity well. For the last 19 months there has been record growth, and our airport is now handling approximately 11 million movements a year. That leaves good capacity on the one runway, which we can take advantage of whilst decisions are taken for London’s current airports.

Beverley Nielsen, Lib Dem candidate said:

The promoters of Heathrow expansion expect the taxpayer to subsidise the development up to tune of £5-6bn. Why should the taxpayer subsidise this private development when other airports expect their shareholders to fund their own developments?

£5-6bn of tax payer money could be better used to rebalance the UK economy and add to quality of life in the West Midlands rather than add to congestion in the South East.

Would this constitute State Aid which is illegal and does not represent a level playing field for other airports? I could foresee a further legal challenge to this aspect of the decision.

All this means it will be 10-15 years before we see Heathrow expanding. In the context of the UK ‘open for business’ all of this comes far, far too late.

The BCU director added:

Other airports can continue to grow with no expansion at Heathrow for a decade. The fastest growth opportunities are in point-to-point travel which is good for Birmingham Airport.

HS2 is a catalyst for Birmingham and Manchester, but both these great metro economies need certainty and endorsement.

Chris Grayling has failed the rest of the UK this morning by failing to give any proper plan to address the urgent need to rebalance growth and ensure vital connectivity of our West Midlands mixed manufacturing economy.

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