Runway delay a ‘threat’ to economy

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Published: Wednesday 10th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Any delay by ministers in going ahead with airport expansion will harm the UK’s global competitiveness, an aerospace chief said today.

The Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission is expected, by the end of this month, to bring out its final report in which it will recommend whether a new runway should be built at Gatwick or Heathrow.

But a report in the Financial Times said the Government could delay making a decision until Christmas.

Responding to this, Paul Everitt, chief executive of aerospace national trade association ADS, said: “We need more runway capacity in south east England.

“We don’t have a specific view on just which airport should get a new runway but we need a decision soon. We have been waiting a long time for this.

“Without additional capacity, our global competitiveness is under threat.”

Airport expansion is proving a political hot potato.

London mayor Boris Johnson, the newly-elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, is vehemently opposed to a new runway being built at Heathrow.

Another Tory MP, Zac Goldsmith (Richmond), is also against expansion at Heathrow, as is International Development Minister Justine Greening.

John Stewart, chairman of Heathrow residents’ group Hacan, said: “We can only speculate why the Government is delaying its decision but it is known there is considerable opposition to Heathrow expansion in the Cabinet, with at least five ministers opposed to a third runway.

“Business will not welcome the uncertainty but it will also mean continued blight for local residents faced with the threat of their homes being demolished or those who face the prospect of living under a new flightpath.”

A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “There has to be a quick decision following a long and thorough process by the Airports Commission. Expanding Heathrow will deliver what the nation needs and what politicians want – an opportunity to win the race for jobs and growth by connecting the entire country to the world’s fastest-growing destinations.

“Heathrow is the only decision that will create up to 180,000 new jobs and £211 billion of economic growth, shared across the UK. That’s why it’s supported by businesses, unions, airlines and airports across the land.”

A Gatwick spokesman said: “We are confident the Airports Commission and the Government will choose Gatwick as – when everything is taken together – we have the strongest case. Our expansion plans offer the only deliverable option so whenever a decision happens we are ready to get on with it immediately.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are determined to make progress on this vital issue but we need to carefully consider the Airports Commission’s full body of work before setting out next steps.”

Published: Wednesday 10th June 2015 by The News Editor

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