Scottish government backs Heathrow expansion

Scottish government backs Heathrow expansion

The Scottish government has thrown its weight behind plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Ministers will decide within weeks whether to enlarge Heathrow or London rival Gatwick, in plans that could create 16,000 jobs.

The project now has the backing of Holyrood with the Scottish government set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Heathrow Airport later, the BBC reports.

Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work, told BBC Radio Scotland that it was the "best deal for Scotland".

If the expansion goes through, around £200m will be spent on construction in Scotland, £10m set aside for new domestic routes and a commitment to investigate Prestwick Airport as a possible site for a logistics hub to support the building of the third runway.

"In the absence of action from the UK government, we have made this decision and we would urge them to act as quickly as possible,” Brown added.

Gatwick reacted with surprise to the announcement by the Scottish Government.

A spokesman said: "We are surprised the Scottish Government has chosen to support a proposal which we believe will undermine Scotland's connections with the world, making it more dependent on London and the South East of England and restricting the choice available to Scottish travellers by forcing more of them to fly through London.

"Furthermore, some of the suggested benefits to Scotland are unlikely to bear serious scrutiny, which makes the decision all the more curious. However, we are confident that expansion will happen at Gatwick and that competition will prevail over the old-fashioned monopoly being planned by Heathrow. That would be the best outcome for Scotland."

The proposals to build at Heathrow are not universally agreed upon as environmentalists, the local authority near the airport and some MPs have opposed the plan.

Heathrow Airport has also said it plans to squeeze an additional 5% capacity from its existing runways while Gatwick Airport says it is prepared to expand regardless of the decision.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding, Heathrow has committed to a reduction of £10 per passenger on landing charges paid by airlines operating between Heathrow and Scotland from January, including flights from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

It has also agreed to a “significant, long-term marketing campaign” to promote Scotland and a procurement event in Glasgow to enhance opportunities for Scottish firms to win business with Tier 1 Heathrow suppliers, the BBC reports.



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