Busi­ness groups write to Bri­tish PM urg­ing Heathrow ex­pan­sion

The Malta Business Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

Theresa May has been urged to stick to the govern­ment's timetable for hav­ing a vote on Heathrow ex­pan­sion.

A num­ber of busi­ness lobby groups have signed a let­ter say­ing the govern­ment needs to "get on with ex­pand­ing the UK's air­port ca­pac­ity".

The idea for the let­ter came from Heathrow it­self.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling has also been ask­ing busi­ness groups to sup­port the ex­pan­sion plans.

The busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions that signed the let­ter have all come out in favour of Heathrow ex­pan­sion in the past.

The let­ter sent to Num­ber 10 said: "As Brexit ap­proaches, Heathrow ex­pan­sion is cru­cial to mak­ing sure the UK re­mains an out­ward-look­ing trad­ing na­tion and is well-equipped to com­pete on the world stage.

"For Bri­tish busi­nesses, the ben­e­fits of ex­pan­sion have al­ways been clear: con­nec­tions to new mar­kets and trad­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, with bet­ter links with re­gional air­ports across the UK a boost to Bri­tish ex­ports, and a skills legacy for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions."

The let­ter adds that the UK is los­ing ground to com­pe­ti­tion from Euro­pean air­ports.

"There are many un­knowns for busi­nesses sur­round­ing Bri­tain's fu­ture trad­ing ar­range­ments, but what is ab­so­lutely cer­tain is that our eco­nomic suc­cess de­pends on se­cur­ing Heathrow's fu­ture as a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional air­port," it adds.

The groups that put their name to the let­ter were the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish In­dus­try, the Bri­tish Cham­bers of Com­merce, the In­sti­tute of Di­rec­tors, the Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses, the EEF - The Man­u­fac­tur­ers' Or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Lon­don Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, and air­port ex­pan­sion lobby group Lon­don First.

The tim­ing of the let­ter, which has been pub­lished by Heathrow, is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant.

The govern­ment is due to timetable a vote on the Air­ports Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment, which is go­ing to set out its air­port in­fra­struc­ture pol­icy - in­clud­ing Heathrow ex­pan­sion - in the first half of the year.

Heathrow reg­u­larly has meet­ings with the busi­ness lobby groups, and its po­si­tion is that the groups sent the let­ter out of a mu­tual de­sire to get the vote tabled.

It was ex­pected that the vote would hap­pen be­fore the sum­mer re­cess, which runs from 24 July to 4 Septem­ber.

The busi­ness lobby groups and Heathrow want the vote to go ahead as planned be­fore Septem­ber be­cause then MPs will be more pre-oc­cu­pied with Brexit.

The terms for Bri­tain to leave the EU need to be con­cluded by 30 Septem­ber 2018 un­der a timetable set by the EU's chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier.

The UK vote on the Air­ports Na­tional Pol­icy State­ment will be tabled af­ter a process is set in mo­tion by Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling.

He in turn has been lob­by­ing busi­ness groups for sup­port for the govern­ment's Heathrow ex­pan­sion plans to try to get MPs to vote in favour.

Con­ser­va­tive MPs are likely to vote with the govern­ment. Unions and many Labour MPs also sup­port ex­pan­sion, but the Labour lead­er­ship in the past has come out against Heathrow ex­pan­sion on en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds.

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