Transport Secretary reconfirms runway commitment

Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP has reconfirmed the Government’s intention to back a new runway in the south east.

The Transport Secretary last night was speaking at the British Air Transport Association (BATA) annual dinner in London on January 27.

He said the the whole of the UK will benefit from the extra connections it would provide, and that the current capacity constraint is costing “business and jobs.”

He said: “Nothing will change the fact that without action, London’s aviation network will be full by 2040.”

“But constrained capacity is already costing us business and jobs.

“With every new air route to the Far East or South America, Paris, Frankfurt and Dubai are making themselves more attractive to investors.”

Of the procrastination over the final decision on the location of the new runway, he said: “Of course I know that many in the industry were disappointed that we delayed the final decision. It wasn’t something we took lightly. But .. opponents of expansion hailed the delay as some sort of victory. They could not have been more wrong. The decision was delayed because it was the right thing to do. The responsible thing to do.

“To make sure we’re fully prepared. So we know from the outset that we will get the job finished.”

Reaffirming that the whole country would benefit from capacity expansion, he said: “We also need it for the benefits it will bring to the wider UK economy. One of the most persuasive arguments for new capacity is the links it will provide to the north, the south west, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

“Opponents have tried to suggest that a new runway would somehow undermine our domestic network. In fact the reverse is true. Wherever we decide to build new runway capacity. You can be sure that local economies throughout the UK will benefit. With more flights, more routes, and more connections.”

Heathrow Airport welcomed the comments, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “We fully agree with government that the whole of the UK must reap the benefits of airport expansion. Only Heathrow can connect Britain to the world, delivering up to £211bn in economic benefit with a third runway, up to £114bn of which will be spread outside London and the South East to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.”

“That’s why we’re backed by more than 30 Chambers of Commerce in every region and nation, over 30 British airports and a majority of MPs. We stand ready to deliver this privately funded infrastructure project as soon as we get the green light.”

Jock Lowe, director of Heathrow Hub, the independent proposal to extend the northern runway at Heathrow said: “We understand the reasons for the recent delay in making a decision on airport expansion. However, additional airport capacity is an important national project, critical to the long term economic health of the nation, and progress is painfully slow. The Government needs to explain its priorities.”

“We are optimistic that we can resolve issues about air quality, surface access and costs, as long as Ministers think creatively and strategically and give direction. It is vital that they crack on with a collaborative process to develop the best solution to airport expansion for the entire country.”

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