"Mixed messages' from government over UK regional airports DSA and Manston
Britain’s air cargo sector is said to be receiving mixed messages on regional airports as ...
It will come as no surprise to anyone following UK politics at the moment (or what passes for politics), that the rudderless government has decided to kick plans for airport expansion into the long grass – again.
UK businesses are furious that no decision will now be made until October at the earliest.
The Freight Transport Association said this morning the delay was “bad news for the economy and will further erode confidence in Britain’s ability to compete in global markets”.
Chris Welsh, FTA’s director of global & European policy, said: “This is the third time a decision has been put off since the Davis Commission report was published last year.
“Increased airport capacity in the south-east has become a political football and the situation must not be allowed to continue. Britain needs connections with the world now it has walked away from the EU.
“The government needs to get on with its job and protect British industry – exporters and importers are crying out for leadership on this issue.”
A letter sent today to the government from top executives at more than 170 businesses stated: “In these uncertain economic times, what is certain is that we must remain an outward-looking trading nation. Heathrow expansion is crucial to delivering this…
“But this decision matters beyond our airports. You have identified the need for a new Victorian Age of infrastructure but we need confidence that your government will take the tough decisions to deliver this.
“If you give the green light to expand Heathrow, then businesses and investors will know you are serious and that the National Infrastructure Commission is worthy of its name.”
It is now a year since Howard Davies released his report, recommending the expansion of Heathrow, after a two-and-a-half year analysis. And as Heathrow has been quick to point out, now that the UK is set to leave the EU, it would seem an ideal time for airport expansion. Schiphol, often called London’s third airport, is likely to be less useful to the UK after Brexit.
But brave decisions seem thin on the ground in the UK parliament currently.
Now that anti-Heathrow campaigner and Brexit ring-leader Boris Johnson has decided not to run for prime minister after all, David Cameron looks likely to be replaced by Michael Gove or Theresa May, both of whom have constituencies near the airport. But a recent poll of politicians suggested that two-thirds were in favour of Heathrow expansion.
Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “If Britain wants to be confident, outward-looking and at the centre of the world’s economy, then expanding Heathrow must be a key building block in the government’s Brexit plan.
“It will allow British exporters to trade with all the growing markets of the world, strengthening Britain’s position as one of the great trading nations. And at a time of uncertainty, a £16bn privately funded infrastructure investment will create jobs and growth across the UK.”
Gatwick, meanwhile, argues it is best placed for expansion, while Manchester Airports Group, owner of Stansted and three other UK airports, has called for further delays.
“Now is the time for government to step back from the decision on runway capacity and let the market decide where and when new capacity should be delivered”.
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