R3 “most credible option” for airport capacity

A report backed by leading business organisation London First has concluded that the Government was wrong to rule out further expansion at Heathrow Airport.

“Heathrow runway three is the most credible option to meet London’s urgent need for more international flights and Government is wrong to rule it out of its aviation review” – is just one of the findings in the report which looks at London’s transport links to the UK and the rest of the world.

Chaired by Peter Robinson, Chairman of Berwin Leighton Paisner, the year-long commission considered how best to maintain and improve London’s transport links with the UK and the rest of the world, to support future economic growth.

The report, London, Britain and the world: Transport links for economic growth, examines the capital’s road, rail and air links, and the results of what London First describes as “decades of short term thinking and instability in transport policy – increasing costs on the railways, congested roads, and no credible aviation policy”.

It makes a number of recommendations including:

• Considering all options for increasing capacity at Heathrow, including a third runway and allowing planes to land and take-off concurrently on both runways.

• Considering all viable options for meeting the UK’s long-term need for further hub airport capacity, including a new airport.

• The development of a charging system to cut congestion on roads – particularly during peak times.

• Ending unsustainable fare rises by increasing efficiencies in the rail industry, and reconsidering the allocation of government subsidy to ensure public money is being spent on projects which give the best economic growth.

• A greater focus on the way road, rail and air infrastructure links together – so that passengers’ journeys can be improved when transferring from air to rail or road.

Peter Robinson, Chairman of the Connectivity Commission, said: “Significant improvement is needed in London’s connectivity to emerging international markets as well as to the rest of the UK – but this can be achieved if Government grasps the severity of the problem. Government must prioritise investment in transport that contributes most to economic growth and look seriously at how we plan, finance and deliver the infrastructure we need.”

Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said: “Government needs urgently to get to grips with the growing pressures on our transport infrastructure – particularly our vital air links. Rather than kicking politically difficult solutions into the long grass it should consider all options and look at what is best for the UK’s prosperity. It could be viewed as negligent of Government to make such an important decision on purely political grounds. A third runway at Heathrow should be ruled back into the options.”

Frank Wingate, CEO of West London Business commented: “This report confirms what WLB has been saying all along — that the UK needs a long term integrated transport policy. Too often short term political considerations have overridden important transport needs, such as the third runway at Heathrow, which are necessary to keep our economy competitive in a global market. We hope the Government will take this report seriously, reconsider its aviation policy, and keep all options open.”

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