Belfast Telegraph

Third runway at Heathrow 'good for business, good for Britain'

Business groups, politicians and trade unions welcomed the end of the Government's "dithering" by backing Heathrow, but voiced dismay at the ongoing delay before the airport can expand.

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the pilots' union Balpa, said: "We are pleased the Government has finally taken a long overdue stance but it's disappointing the definitive vote will not take place for at least another year.

"Heathrow is already operating at almost maximum capacity so expansion is vital to the UK economy and aviation industry."

Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB, said Heathrow needs expansion if it is to retain its world class status as a global hub airport.

"This not only protects the 80,000 jobs directly employed at the airport but will increase to a further 114,000 jobs that will be needed, and 10,000 local apprenticeship schemes."

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Today's decision is a welcome boost for British business, which could deliver up to £211 billion of extra economic growth, 180,000 jobs and double the apprenticeships at Heathrow to a total of 10,000. We now need to see budgets committed and shovels in the ground as soon as possible."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The Heathrow expansion is absolutely vital for Britain. It will help our economy grow faster and stronger. This investment has the potential to create thousands of high-quality jobs and apprenticeships right across the UK."

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Put simply, it's about time. Successive governments have prevaricated for far too long in the face of a blindingly obvious need for more runway capacity.

"Businesses will now want assurances that the final approval process for Heathrow's new runway will be smooth and swift, so that construction can begin as soon as possible."

Louise Ellman, who chairs the Transport Select Committee, said: "After decades of dithering, the decision has been made and it is the right one. The Transport Select Committee has consistently backed the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport, with the package of accompanying measures recommended by the Airports Commission, as the best solution to increasing airport capacity in the South East.

"A third runway at Heathrow is good for business, good for Britain."

Paul Drechsler, president of the CBI, said: "The Prime Minister's green light to expand the UK's aviation capacity comes as an enormous relief to firms in every corner of the country.

"A new runway at Heathrow is really fantastic news, especially as the country has waited nearly 50 years for this decision. It will create the air links that will do so much to drive jobs and unlock growth across the UK, allowing even more of our innovative, ambitious and internationally focussed firms, from Bristol to Belfast, to take off and break into new markets."

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "Giving the green light to Heathrow expansion is the right one for industry and the country. Heathrow will be a key linchpin in enabling post-Brexit trade and this decision provides reassurance to manufacturers that access to direct, efficient and cost-effective trade routes to the rest of the world will be backed by action and not just words.

Ralph Smyth, of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "Building a third runway at Heathrow would in itself take a huge chunk out of the Green Belt, but creating the biggest airport in the world on London's western edge would have an even more disastrous impact.

"Pressure for extra development would be felt in almost every village from the north of Oxfordshire to the south coast, urbanising and industrialising swathes of our most precious countryside."

Dan Lewis, of the Institute of Directors, said: "Business will welcome the fact that the Government has finally taken this necessary decision in the national interest, ending years of frustrating prevarication. The future success of the British economy will depend upon companies being able to continue to expand trade with the world, particularly beyond Europe.

"For that to happen there have to be enough flights to the destinations firms want. Heathrow is already full, and Gatwick will be full soon, so more capacity is vital."

Tony Arbour, who chairs the London Assembly, said: "We are appalled that the Government has decided to give the green light to expansion at Heathrow, despite the vast body of evidence to indicate this will expose Londoners to higher levels of deadly air pollution, intolerable noise and overwhelming congestion.

"The need for investment in public transport access for passengers and staff will be substantial in order to keep London's transport network working."

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "This piecemeal approach to runway infrastructure in the South East is damaging British tourism and the competitiveness of London airports.

"Approving a third runway at Heathrow over Gatwick is not the way forward. London now benefits from three competing airports, and three large competing airlines (BA, easyJet and Ryanair) and the best way to deliver additional runways in a timely and cost-efficient manner is to approve three additional runways - one each at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted."

Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways owner IAG, said: "We're pleased that a decision has finally been made but the cost of this project will make or break it. The Government's directive to cap customer charges at today's level is fundamental.

"Heathrow is the world's most expensive hub airport so it's critical that new capacity is affordable. The airport has consistently argued that the British economy will benefit if the third runway is approved.

"Heathrow want it, argued for it and now must ensure it's the UK and the travelling public who get the benefits from the runway, not the airport's owners."

London's Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "This is the wrong decision for London and the whole of Britain.

"The Government are running roughshod over Londoners' views - just five months ago I was elected as mayor on a clear platform of opposing a new runway at Heathrow, a position that was shared by the Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and Ukip candidates in that election.

"A new runway at Heathrow will be devastating for air quality across London - air pollution around the airport is already above legal levels of NO2."

Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet, said: "This is good news for UK consumers and businesses and will help ensure that the UK is better connected to the rest of the world.

"With the right charging structure and the right infrastructure for our efficient model, easyJet plans to operate from Heathrow, in addition to our existing London bases, providing new routes and lower fares to customers."

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, whose Hayes and Harlington constituency contains Heathrow, said he would continue to campaign to ensure the third runway "never sees the light of day".

The Labour frontbencher said: "I've campaigned against this runway for over 30 years and in that time Heathrow have never managed to win the argument for expansion, which still remains the case today.

"Nothing has changed. Building a third runway would be devastating for local residents who face losing their homes, schools, community centre and village life.

"Four thousand homes face the prospect of either being demolished or rendered unliveable by air pollution and noise.

"This means 8-10,000 people forcibly removed from their homes. We have not seen anything on this scale in our country's history."

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "We welcome any decision that will finally give certainty on airport expansion, muc h needed in terms of investment and growth in our country. However the Government's announcement today is not the end - it is yet another step in the process, rather than the final detail.

"Labour has consistently been in favour of building an additional runway in the South East of England, but this support has always been conditional on four tests being met: on capacity, climate change, noise and air quality and the wider national benefits. Today's announcement, heralding another consultation, does not yet do that."

Unite's London and Eastern regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said: "The Government's approval for a third runway at Heathrow is welcome news, but it needs to fast-forward the final decision and construction of the project.

"With every day that passes, rival airports like Frankfurt and Charles de Gaulle in Paris rub their hands at the prospect of gaining a competitive advantage."

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: " More capacity means more opportunity for tourists to visit Britain, and this decision represents a great chance for our pubs to benefit economically from this announcement."

Mr McDonald added: "Labour remain committed to expanding capacity in the South East, but going forwards the Government must be much clearer on environmental and infrastructure issues as well as how they will support our international gateway airports not only in London but across the rest of the country."