New study argues third runway needed to secure jobs and growth
A new study is arguing that constraints on capacity at Heathrow would result in up to 5.8m fewer visitors to the UK from long-haul destinations annually by 2021 and put 140,000 jobs in the UK at risk.
The report by Oxford Economics aims to reopen the debate on the third runway and is supported by business leaders and union bosses. Unite and GMB unions have combined with the Institute of Directors (IoD) to claim it is "plain daft" not to consider expanding Heathrow and some 140,000 jobs are at risk without action to increase the UK's aviation capacity. They dismiss the alternative of a new hub in the Thames Estuary which they say will take 25 years by which time tourism, exports and foreign investment would be hit.
Simon Walker, IoD director-general, said: "It's not enough for Government to be telling the world that the UK is open for business. The lamentable failure to increase airport capacity means that jobs are already being lost to our competitors overseas. Without immediate support for our hub airport and a swift decision on new capacity, job losses will only increase."
Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB, said: “It is plain daft to exclude the option of expanding Heathrow. Last autumn the Government said it was looking at another airport hub in the South of England, but not at Heathrow. GMB consider that this is profoundly wrong and call on all political parties to keep every option on the table, including the issue of the third runway at Heathrow.”
At the same time some 70 British business leaders and groups representing hundreds of others have written an open letter to Britain's government demanding the debate about building a third runway at London's Heathrow airport be re-opened.
The letter, published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, is signed by large corporations such as Microsoft Corp and Telefonica O2, and aims to make the government to re-think its aviation policy.
Campaign group HACAN, which represents residents under the Heathrow flight path, has dismissed the attempt to re-open the Heathrow debate as “fighting yesterday’s battles with the day before’s arguments.”
HACAN Chair John Stewart said: “The argument has been settled. There is no compelling economic case for a third runway at Heathrow. BAA will not accept that the current Government rejected both the environmental and economic case for Heathrow expansion. It’s a sign of its desperation that it has wheeled out Oxford Economics to do the report. These were the consultants who provided the economic basis for the now discredited 2003 Air Transport White Paper.”
Oxford Economics is based in Oxford but not connected with the University.
The Prime Minister said of the third runway in a speech to business leaders in 2008: “There are now increasing grounds to believe that the economic case is flawed, even without addressing the serious environmental concerns.”
All major parties have currently ruled out expansion at Heathrow.
March 7, 2012