Heathrow closure 'could put 230,000 jobs at risk'

Heathrow closure 'could put 230,000 jobs at risk'

As many as 230,000 jobs could be put at risk in the Thames Valley if the government decides to close Heathrow and build a new hub airport, a new study claims.

One in every 20 jobs in the area is directly attributable to the economic activity generated by the west London airport, it found.

Economic consultancy Regeneris considered the regional effect of three main airport options: an expanded Heathrow; a “do-nothing” scenario; and a new hub to the east or northeast of London, with Heathrow closing.

If Heathrow were closed, “in the long run, of the order of 170,000 to 230,000 jobs could be at risk in the area due to their links to and use of Heathrow for travel”.

This represents 7-9.5% of jobs in the region, the Financial Times reports today.

The study was focused on one of the UK’s most powerful economic areas: the so-called “western wedge” along the M4 motorway from the west London suburbs to Oxford, Newbury, Guildford and Basingstoke.

With a range of IT, telecommunications, media and scientific research companies, it accounts for £137 billion in gross value added, a measure of economic output – or 10% of the UK total.

Regeneris managing director Stephen Nicol said one of the attractions of the western wedge for companies was its proximity to the UK’s hub airport.

“Heathrow airport is an enormously important driver of the area’s economy,” he told the newspaper.

The study was commissioned by West London Business and four local enterprise partnerships: Buckinghamshire Thames Valley, Enterprise M3, Oxfordshire and Thames Valley Berkshire.

It looked ahead to 2030, when any airport development is expected to be completed, and again in 2040, when the effects would be “fully worked through”.

If Heathrow were expanded, extra activity by 2040 would create 20,000 new jobs and raise gross value added by about £3 billion, the study said.

Extra benefits of £230 million to £300 million would accrue from improved connectivity in the area.

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