Reconsider third Heathrow runway, business leaders demand

Reconsider third Heathrow runway, business leaders demand

The government is being urged to re-open the debate about building a third runway at Heathrow.

A group of almost 70 business leaders have penned an open letter calling for a re-think of the UK’s aviation policy.

The letter to the Sunday Telegraph was signed by large corporations such as Microsoft and Telefonica O2 together with Institute of Directors director general Simon Walker and his British Chambers of Commerce counterpart John Longworth.

Although the letter does not mention a third runway directly, it makes it clear that the government’s aviation review, which is continuing throughout 2012, should include the option.

The letter says: “There is a huge opportunity for the UK to lead in connectivity to growth markets, but we need a hub solution that has the capacity to compete if we are to seize it.

“Constraints at the UK’s only international hub airport at Heathrow will see it fall behind France and Germany in the next 10 years unless something is done. £14 billion of trade and many potential jobs would be lost to our economy as a result.”

It comes ahead of the coalition publishing its new aviation policy but against a backdrop of a block on the building of a third runway at the London hub when the government came to power in 2010.

The Department for Transport said it did not support the development of a third runway at Heathrow because of the "unacceptable environmental consequences."

“The government will consult on an overarching sustainable framework for UK aviation this spring and alongside this we will publish a call for evidence on maintaining effective UK hub airport connectivity,” a DfT spokesman said.

“As the Chancellor made clear in his autumn statement, we will explore all the options for maintaining the UK's aviation hub status with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow.”

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is fighting to be re-elected, repeated his opposition to a third runway at Heathrow saying it was the wrong place to increase airport capacity.

His vision of a new purpose-built facility on a man-made island in the Thames estuary, dubbed 'Boris Island', has been gaining political support of late.

And in a statement the Department for Transport said: “The government does not support the development of a third runway at Heathrow because of the unacceptable environmental consequences it would bring. We will explore all the options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow.” 

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