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Thames Valley: Decision in favour of expanding Heathrow Airport is breakthrough for the UK

By Dan Teuton
26 October 2016
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Thames Valley Berkshire LEP and Enterprise M3 LEP both strongly welcome the decision of the Government’s transport sub-committee to agree to the expansion of London Heathrow airport, as recommended by the Airports Commission on significant economic grounds.

The announcement of a third runway at London Heathrow will address the lack of airport capacity in the South East and will give the airport the largest capacity in the UK, supporting the economic growth of the country.

An economic assessment commissioned by the Western Wedge partners (Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, Enterprise M3 LEP, Buckinghamshire LEP, Oxfordshire LEP and West London Business) in 2013 highlighted that the expansion of Heathrow would add 35,000 jobs and £3.5 billion of GVA by 2040 to the South East economy.

The Airports Commission released in 2015 concurred with this stating that up to £211b in economic benefits and up to 180,000 jobs across the UK will be created with the expansion of Heathrow. 202 of the top 300 companies in the UK are headquartered within a 25-mile radius of Heathrow; the expansion of the airport will help to ensure these companies remain in the area and that Heathrow’s global hub status is sustained. 

We understand this decision will now lead to the creation of a draft airports National Policy Statement, which will need to be consulted and approved by Parliament; a vote which we hope will be made swiftly in order for construction to begin.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP chairman Peter Read commented: “The expansion of Heathrow is a positive signal from the prime minister that in the midst of Brexit uncertainty, the UK remains a strong hub of global connectivity. As the most productive sub-region in the country, Thames Valley Berkshire’s connectivity is crucial to this and to maintaining the UK’s competitive advantage. The LEP has made public its position of support for the expansion of Heathrow since 2012 and this has always been based on sound evidence. It is heartening to see that such a significant decision for the UK economy has finally been made on the basis of sound economic rationale.” 

Enterprise M3 LEP chairman Geoff French CBE said: “The backing of Heathrow expansion by the Government is exactly what our businesses stated they needed. The success of the Enterprise M3 economy in Hampshire and Surrey depends heavily on the strong links to Heathrow Airport. Our economy offers opportunities for growth which cannot be realised without additional capacity at Heathrow. Trade across the globe is of vital importance and underpins the success of many of our companies. 

“Locally, nearly 10,000 Enterprise M3 LEP area residents work at Heathrow, and with additional jobs created with the confirmed expansion, this could rise to 25,000 jobs. To support the expansion, improved rail connections are needed for Heathrow to function effectively, in particular the Government should firmly commit to the delivery of a southern rail access to Heathrow as soon as possible.” 


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