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Public say the Government not doing enough to boost the UK’s trading infrastructure

Posted on in News
  • A majority of Britons think that the Government is not doing enough to invest in the UK’s trading infrastructure, a new poll has revealed today
  • The findings come a week after a new CEBR report found that over 40% of the UK’s exports to non-EU markets pass through Heathrow, making it the country’s largest port by value for markets outside the EU – larger than Southampton, Felixstowe and Portsmouth combined
  • Following last week’s ruling on the Government’s process to approve Heathrow expansion, the airport has confirmed it is appealing to the Supreme Court on one issue. All other appeals were dismissed by the Court
  • Almost one in two (46%) want the Government and Heathrow to work together to progress the airport’s expansion, in line with the UK’s climate change commitments, and reject alternative airport expansion options


New polling has today revealed that a majority of those in Britain think that the Government is not doing enough to invest in the UK’s trading infrastructure.

The poll, published by YouGov, highlights that over half the public (57%) think the Government should be doing more to invest in national infrastructure to help the UK trade globally, while only 13% think the Government is currently doing enough.

A majority also agreed that the Government needs to do more to connect UK communities to global trade opportunities, while only 15% think the Government is doing a sufficient amount.

The findings come as the UK begins negotiations over its future trading relationships with the EU and the US. And central to the country’s ability to trade is the UK’s largest port by value – Heathrow.

A recent report from CEBR has found that over 40% of the UK’s exports to non-EU markets by value now pass through Heathrow – more than Southampton, Felixstowe and Portsmouth combined. The airport moves more in a week than the next largest UK cargo airport does in a year. Expansion at Heathrow would provide up to a further 40 new long haul routes to new markets, as well as doubling cargo capacity.

The poll, published a week after the Court of Appeal dismissed all but one claim in a judicial review against the Government’s Airports National Policy Statement, also found that nearly one in two (46%) believe the Government should work with Heathrow on plans which are already well progressed, rather than begin another process to choose another airport to expand. 46% also believe expanding Heathrow within stringent environmental tests is the best option. Just last month, the UK aviation industry produced a detailed plan setting out the path to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with Heathrow publishing its own pathway to net zero in February. 

Heathrow have been clear that the ruling against the Government is eminently fixable, given that the airport’s expansion plans can be delivered in accordance with the Paris Agreement. The Court clearly stated that the ruling does not mean the project is incompatible with the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

A Heathrow spokesperson said:

Campaign slogans are important for a general election, but now the country needs decisive action. The Government can either keep waiting on the side lines and watch France overtake Britain with the biggest airport in Europe within the next two years, or together we can take back control of our future trading destiny and build the global Britain infrastructure our country needs. Heathrow expansion will meet strict environmental targets and it won’t cost the taxpayer a penny. Britons understand that Heathrow expansion is exactly the type of project our country needs now more than ever – the Government should heed their advice and help us move it forward at speed.”

Notes to Editors:

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 3,306 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th – 27th February 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).