Heathrow airport has finally been given the go-ahead to embark on a £14 billion expansion. The next challenge is to ensure the supporting road and rail network is properly considered to maximise the economic benefits for the metro regions.
Businesses across the UK will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that finally, we’re making progress with a major infrastructure project that has been 50 years in debate.
Despite the absence of Boris Johnson, arguably the most vocal Heathrow expansion critic, MPs backed plans to build a third runway at Heathrow winning the vote with a majority of 296 (415 votes to 119).
The announcement that a new £14 billion runway will be built – hopefully within the next eight years – surely marks the end of one of the longest-running political disputes in British politics.
"Sustained investment in transport infrastructure is long overdue. Infrastructure that’s modern, efficient, great value and joined up."
Earlier this month, the Heathrow Business Summit for the North West took place in Salford to match the airport’s supply chain with SMEs from across the region. This is important reminder that Heathrow is a national asset, not just for the South and it’s encouraging that the operators want to open up opportunities to business in Manchester and beyond.
Our collaboration of chambers firmly believe there is as much to be gained from Heathrow expansion in Manchester or Bristol as there is across London and the South East.
This is not a North vs. South issue. At Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, we have actively campaigned with colleagues at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to support Heathrow’s third runway and also Crossrail 2. In turn, they have supported Crossrail North.
Sustained investment in transport infrastructure is long overdue. Infrastructure that’s modern, efficient, great value and joined up. Expansion of a hub airport in the south east, means growing the supporting infrastructure – roads and rail – to feed it. This should be tackled in a coordinated way to ensure the economic benefits of the growing airport hub reach as far as the metro regions.
Government must now match its support for a third runway at Heathrow with specific and practical proposals to maximise the potential of key airports like Manchester. This is the national airport strategy this country desperately needs – never more so than on the cusp of Brexit.