Opinion Former

30 Chambers of Commerce are all backing an expanded Heathrow

Businesses, organisations, community groups and people are quickly realising Heathrow's solution to the UK’s future aviation strategy question is about Britain’s place in a rapidly changing world.

In an argument sometimes dominated by soundbites, the groups representing these businesses and organisations have a clear view about where expanded airport capacity will make a real difference for the whole of the country.

They recognise that frequent and direct flights to destinations in South America, Africa and Asia will help connect their cities and regions to new emerging markets. If the government is serious about creating opportunities around the whole country, an expanded Heathrow must be the answer.

From Inverness to Kent, more than 30 Chambers of Commerce have expressed their support for increasing the capacity of the UK's only hub airport.

Heathrow is the preferred choice because it will also be able to provide flights that drive more visitors and investors to the UK from key long-haul markets.

Increased inward investment is critical for the British economy in today's globalised marketplace and ultimately an expanded Heathrow is needed to connect their businesses to key markets such as China, India and Brazil.

That's what will happen with an expanded hub airport. There's the direct investment, as companies realise they can start to do business with markets which promise to grow at a rapid pace.

And there's the indirect investment - the purchases of goods and services from the companies providing direct employment as a result of the expansion.

Altogether, the possibilities come to up to £211 billion of benefit to the British economy.

It will also help the government achieve their goal of rebalancing the economy – and accomplish it in a way that delivers a shot in the arm to our manufacturing sector, too.

Expansion at Heathrow, a major hub for freight as well as passenger aircraft, will help tackle the trade deficit by giving exporters of manufactured goods the chance to reach clients in growing markets across the globe.

That will result in the creation up to 94,900 new manufacturing jobs across the UK by 2050.

Altogether, the difference this will have is tremendously exciting. An expanded Heathrow holds the promise of changing people's lives - not least with up to 180,000 jobs provided through expansion.

With close to 80,000 of these new employment opportunities being located outside London and the South-East, it's clear this decision will affect all of Britain.

"The question for us," says Glasgow Chamber of Commerce's chief executive, Stuart Patrick, is the extent to which any of the options currently on the table "will allow us to maintain the range and depth of international connections that follow on from domestic flights".

Having examined the facts carefully, his organisation has made a decisive choice about which option he backs.  And he's not alone in the conclusion he's come to.

Those 30 Chambers of Commerce together representing 40,000 businesses are all backing an expanded Heathrow.

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