Air, Freight News

Heathrow runway back in the long grass

[ June 30, 2016   //   ]

The freight industry has reacted at dismay to the news – albeit widely anticipated – that the Government has too many other things on its mind to make a decision on runway capacity in the south-east, as originally planned this summer.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin confirmed on 30 June that no announcement will be made until a new Conservative leader had been elected – October at the earliest – further delaying the long-awaited decision on a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick.

The Freight Transport Association described it as bad news for the economy and said it would further erode confidence in Britain’s ability to compete in global markets.

The Davies Commission concluded in July 2015 that Heathrow was the best option because of the economic benefits for the whole country, which included £147 billion in economic growth over the next 60 years and the creation on 70,000 new jobs by 2050, but the Government refused to give the green light, saying that more time was needed to carry out research into the environmental effects – the third time the decision had been put off, said FTA director of global and European policy, Chris Welsh.

FTA’s own York Aviation report says Heathrow is currently operating at 98% capacity and needs to expand to meet demand.

CBI president, Paul Drechsler added: “The Government has announced the decision will be delayed yet again, but kicking the can down the road is already having a real effect. Last year the CBI showed that delays to getting a decision on airport expansion by 2030 could see the UK lose out on over £30 billion in lost trade with the BRIC economies alone.”

Pro-runway campaigners can though perhaps take some comfort from the fact that former London mayor, Boris Johnson, who is strongly opposed to Heathrow expansion, will not after all throw his had into the ring for the Tory leadership.

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