Opinion Former Article

MPs call for urgent airport decision

Government has been called on yet again to make an urgent and immediate decision on hub airport expansion in South East England in a new report launched this week.

This latest call for decisive action comes from the British Infrastructure Group – chaired by Conservative MP Grant Schapps – in its report ‘Gate Now Closing’. The report is backed by more than 40 cross party MPs.

The report concludes that the Government must select the new hub as a matter of extreme urgency. In a foreword to the document, Grant Schapps pointed out: “The decision on EU membership has not altered this fundamental fact.”

He added: “We believe this choice should be one of the first across the new Prime Minister’s desk.”

The report says that the problem of capacity at Heathrow, which was unambiguously favoured for expansion by the Sir Howard Davies led Airports Commission last year, is causing substantial damage to the UK economy.

“It erodes confidence in the Government’s stated ambition of growing the economy and our international trade,” the report says. It also points out that smaller regional airports have been damaged by “decades of delay” in the hub airport system.

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “At an uncertain time for the British economy, MPs recognise that Heathrow is a private sector infrastructure project that will spread growth across Britain from the moment that we get a green light.

“Now more than ever, people across Britain are counting on the Government to take bold decisions that show we are a confident outward looking trading nation. MPs are clear that expanding Heathrow will help secure Britain’s long term economic future.”

A decision from Government on airport expansion is not now expected until at least October.

The report also calls for the expansion of regional airports as well as improved supporting infrastructure. “Only their expansion can address the coming ‘capacity crunch’ and deliver sustained growth,” it says, adding: “Even airports as large as Bristol and Luton suffer from congested roads and delay-prone rail links. Planning improvements should be a priority of the National Infrastructure Commission.”


 

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