Transport committee backs Heathrow expansion and urges UK government to avoid further delays
04 / 05 / 2016
The UK transport committee has backed the expansion of Heathrow airport and warned that any further delays in making a decision could result in lost growth.
A Transport Select Committee today issued a report on its investigation into airport expansion in the UK.
The committee backed expansion at Heathrow, following on from the Airports Commission’s backing of the airport last July, and told the government it must make up its mind.
The report concluded that arguments for and against expansion have changed little in the last quarter of a century.
Chair of the Transport Committee, Louise Ellman MP, said: “The decision on location is not the end of the process, it is the start of one.
“Real progress cannot begin until the location is declared. Work on environmental issues can run in parallel with other pre-construction work.
“Across the world, cities are collectively planning to build more than 50 new runways with capacity to serve one billion additional passenger journeys by 2036.
“The growth of large hubs in the Middle and Far East and North America threatens our position as a hub of international aviation. The UK’s connectivity with the world’s emerging markets is a major concern.
“The months ticking by constitute time wasted for the UK’s economic prosperity. UK PLC needs to know that a decision will be taken. Doing nothing means the UK continues to lose out.”
Heathrow Airport welcomed the report: “The Transport Committee and the Prime Minister’s Airports Commission have confirmed that an expanded Heathrow will be an economic powerhouse driving jobs creation across the UK and fuelling a boom in British exports.
“Families and businesses across the nation are counting on the Prime Minister to secure Britain’s long term future. Only an expanded Heathrow delivers and now is the time to make it happen.”
Gatwick, with its own plans for expansion, again pointed to the environmental concerns that caused the government to delay making a decision last year and said the Airports Commission’s report contained inaccuracies.
Gatwick said its expansion would deliver an equal number of short haul and long haul routes and bring about similar net economic benefits.
It added that since the Airports Commission concluded its report, the issue of air quality has taken on greater prominence with the emissions scandal revelations in the automobile industry.
“The Transport Committee’s astonishing statement that the arguments ‘for and against airport expansion have changed little in a quarter of a century’ ignores the significant change within the aviation industry following the break-up of the BAA monopoly in 2009 and the worsening of air quality in the UK which has repeatedly halted Heathrow’s plans in the past,” a Gatwick spokesperson said.
“In one key respect, however, the Committee is right to say that nothing has changed – Heathrow is still undeliverable. Fortunately, there is now a credible alternative at Gatwick that can mean Britain finally gets on with it.”