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Heathrow 'needs more runways'

Heathrow should expand by "preferably two more runways", business leaders said today.

Planning permission should be sought now to enable a second runway to be built at Gatwick after 2019, the report from the Institute of Directors (IoD) added.

Air Passenger Duty (APD) airport departure tax was "much too high" and should be frozen, and visa and immigration systems should improve, the IoD said.

The report, Flying into the Future, said: "Heathrow should expand by one, or preferably two, runways." In a poll, 59% of IoD members said a lack of spare capacity at Heathrow was damaging inward investment.

A local agreement means no extra runway can be built at Gatwick in West Sussex before 2019. Putting forward a case for a second runway at Gatwick, the report said: "There is no reason planning permission could not be sought now, so building could begin swiftly after the agreement expires."

On APD, the IoD said only six of the 27 EU states had such a tax and several, including Holland and Denmark, had recently reduced or scrapped their tax.

The report said: "If APD is as damaging in the UK as it was in the Netherlands, it could cost the British economy £12bn a year."

The IoD said visas for overseas residents to visit the UK were costly and complicated, while more permanent border staff should be employed at airports.