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Business groups representing over 500,000 companies call on the Prime Minister to hold Parliament vote on Heathrow Expansion

Posted on in Other news, Press

The 27th of May marked 50 years since the Roskill Commission, the first to ever look into the issue of airport capacity in London, and business groups representing over 500,000 companies have called on the Prime Minister to table a vote on Heathrow expansion.

Their letter to the Prime Minister from business groups, which has been sent to Heathrow and the text copied below, follows an Open Letter sent by the 5 leaders of the UK’s biggest trade unions urging Parliament to back the expansion for the jobs and growth it will create across the country.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Prime Minister,

As the voice of British businesses across the UK, representing large corporations to small SMEs, we continue to support the expansion of Heathrow. It was 50 years ago this week that the then government set up the Roskill Commission to look at airport expansion in the south-east. Half a century later, the need to get on with expanding the UK’s airport capacity is more urgent than ever. As Brexit approaches, Heathrow expansion is crucial to making sure the UK remains an outward looking trading nation and is well-equipped to compete on the world stage.

For British businesses, the benefits of expansion have always been clear: connections to new markets and trading opportunities, with better links with regional airports across the UK a boost to British exports, and a skills legacy for future generations.

UK airports are world-renowned and something we should all be proud of. However, in this instance, the choice for extra hub capacity isn’t between Heathrow or any other UK airport, but between Heathrow and other European hubs. Frankfurt, Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle are pulling ahead at the UK’s expense – at our businesses’ expense – as our major port is constrained forcing global investors and trade to go elsewhere in Europe.

As the UK’s only major hub airport, Heathrow is the gateway to the world for British exports and provides businesses with connectivity to almost any market in the world – from Mumbai to Mexico City, Beijing to Bogotá. Heathrow expansion will strengthen such existing connections and add up to 40 new ones, linking Britain’s exporters – large and small – with customers and opportunities around the world. The airport’s cargo capacity will double, meaning we can put more British goods on shelves across the globe.

It’s not just exporting businesses that stand to benefit. Across the UK, expansion will create tens of thousands of jobs – most outside London – and 5,000 new apprenticeships. Even before it opens, the process of building the new runway will bring massive benefits to construction businesses all over the UK, helping develop the skills that businesses need in a post Brexit Britain.

The businesses we represent come from every corner of the UK, and each and every one has the potential to benefit from expansion. Four new Logistics Hubs – off-site construction centres – will give small businesses far away from London the chance to be part of Heathrow’s supply chain. Coupled with Heathrow’s Skills Taskforce, chaired by Lord Blunkett and tasked with capitalising on the skills opportunities created by expansion, there is an opportunity to secure a skills legacy for future generations.

There are many unknowns for businesses surrounding Britain’s future trading arrangements, but what is absolutely certain is that our economic success depends on securing Heathrow’s future as a leading international airport. As the UK’s only major hub airport it is a vital trade link for our members, and it has never been more important to develop our infrastructure, our businesses and our skills.

And if Heathrow isn’t expanded? It is the country’s biggest port by value, but is currently operating at 98% capacity. Cargo capacity on key export routes to pivotal trading markets such as Shanghai, Delhi and Dubai are virtually full. As other European Hubs such as Frankfurt and Schiphol pull ahead, the risk is that over time British businesses will be denied the increased cargo capacity and long-haul routes we need.

The world is waiting for Britain’s businesses, but it won’t wait forever. If we don’t do this now after decades of debate, Britain will not become the global trading powerhouse we know it can be. We therefore urge the Government to crack on with the vote on Heathrow expansion as soon as possible. Doing so will unlock the crucial new infrastructure for Britain to secure a strong economy – with trade, growth and skills – at such a critical time for businesses across the UK.

Kind regards,

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General, Confederation of British Industry
Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce
Stephen Martin, Director General, Institute of Directors
Martin McTague, Policy Director, Federation of Small Businesses
Stephen Phipson CBE, Chief Executive, EEF – The Manufacturers’ Organisation
Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive, London First