Businesses demand Cameron backs Heathrow expansion

Businesses demand Cameron backs Heathrow expansion

An open letter to prime minster David Cameron signed by more than 270 British business leaders demands the government implement the Airports Commission’s backing for expanding Heathrow.

The letter – sent from signatories ranging from FTSE chiefs and key business and trade associations, to leading global brands and SMEs – warns that UK business growth and productivity is being held back by lack of capacity at Heathrow.

“This lack of hub capacity is holding back the growth of UK businesses who want to fly directly to emerging markets; trade and transport their goods via air freight; create more jobs and connect to the UK’s regions,” the letter says.

Among those signing the letter are Guild of Travel Management chief executive Paul Wait, easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall, Leeds Bradford airport chief executive John Parkin, Liverpool airport chief executive Andrew Cornish,

A third runway will improve connectivity both within and outside the UK, driving exports and stimulating growth across the country, they argue.

Further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected open trading economy in the twenty first century.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland Kaye said: “The prime minister showed leadership in establishing an independent Airports Commission. It unanimously concluded that expanding Heathrow is the best way of securing Britain’s future as a powerhouse in the global economy.

“Now the prime minister has the opportunity to show he is serious about delivering Britain’s long-term economic plan by listening to businesses from across the UK and backing Heathrow expansion.

“This debate has never been about a runway – it is about the future of our country. Let’s get on with it.”

The letter emerged as a report claimed that compensating homeowners for a third runway at Heathrow could cost £1.5 billion, hundreds of millions more than when it was first proposed.

A reparation scheme guarantees an offer to homeowners between the M4 and Heathrow of 25% above the unblighted value of their home. Of those, 750 homes would face compulsory purchase.

Had the runway been approved in 2003 with the same compensation scheme, the estimate to reimburse the 4,545 homeowners living near the airport was £873 million.

A combination of higher house prices and new homes built in the area means that the total potential cost of compensation has risen by 73%, according to research by Hamptons International.

If every eligible homeowner took up the offer for their home at 25% above its unblighted value, the total cost would be £1.51 billion, the estate agent estimates.

Heathrow has set aside £550 million for property compensation, £300 million of which would be for the 750 homes that it would have to buy, The Times reported.


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