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Let’s make the Midlands fly, Cameron told

Let’s make the Midlands fly, Cameron told

🕔05.Sep 2012

A bold plan to put the expansion of Birmingham Airport at the heart of Midland economic recovery was put before the Prime Minister today.

A cross-party delegation of politicians and business leaders met David Cameron at Downing Street to argue the case for increasing aviation capacity at Birmingham rather than building a third runway at Heathrow or a new airport on an island in the Thames Estuary.

Doubling passenger numbers at Birmingham airport to 18 million a year would create 274,000 jobs in the catchment area and at the airport, it is claimed.

Manufacturing costs in the medium term could be reduced by 10 per cent as a result of better connectivity between the West Midlands and the fast-growing economies of China and India.

City Council leader Sir Albert Bore, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP chairman Andy Street and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jerry Blackett were among those meeting the Prime Minister.

Although the main purpose of the meeting was to argue for a better financial deal for the city council, those present were also banging the drum for the airport at a time when the Government appears to be reconsidering its opposition to a third runway at Heathrow,

A research paper handed to Mr Cameron says that an improved Birmingham Airport would have a catchment area extending to 20 per cent of the national economy.

“Developing an effective transport infrastructure can prove extremely costly, economically disruptive and time consuming, unless of course the infrastructure is already in place.

“Building a solution to the current capacity constraints at London Heathrow, either a third/fourth runway or a completely new airport facility elsewhere, is likely to extend resolution of the problem to well into the next decade.

“Harnessing existing infrastructure, able to immediately accommodate a doubling of passenger numbers to 18 million and long-haul flights to all of the major global growth markets, coupled with existing access to 20 per cent of the national economy, is the alternative solution that Birmingham Airport offers.

“The economic catchment area of Birmingham Airport encompasses some 14 million people, providing close to £263 billion of national GVA, and with 15,000 exporters one of the largest concentrations of exporters nationally.

“Furthermore, these exporters tend to be manufacturers supplying high-value added products, most notably vehicles, transport machinery and  component parts, to both the mature and expanding economies around the world.”

The study makes the point that West Midlands export markets remain skewed toward Europe and lag in comparative connectivity to the major global growth markets such as Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.

An extended runway at Birmingham, due to operate from 2014, will help “provide the stimulus to revive output performance, while simultaneously facilitating a rebalancing the economy”.

The research concludes: “Although growth prospects in the UK, and indeed across the EU, remain anaemic at best, output growth in other regions of the world continues to accelerate. Thus access to these markets would stimulate demand for the high-value added products the catchment area produces, while failure to develop this access, or to delay it for a number of years, will enable economic rivals to gain an advantage and stunt UK export performance and potential.”


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