Expansion of Heathrow airport will be a major boost for the North East, says the region’s leading business organisation.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling confirmed this week the Government was backing plans to build a third runway at the UK’s busiest airport.
The announcement split the Conservatives, with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening making their opposition clear and MP Zac Goldsmith - whose Richmond Park and Kingston North constituency lies under the Heathrow flightpath - resigning to force a by-election in protest.
But North East England Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive James Ramsbotham welcomed the news and said it would be good for the region: “We are absolutely delighted with the Government’s decision to move forward with expansion at Heathrow Airport,” he said.
“This long-awaited conclusion is a welcome one for North East England and the whole of the UK.
“We have been staunch advocates of Heathrow expansion as the right option to ensure North East businesses continue to enjoy the access they need to markets around the world.
A green light for airport expansion allows our businesses to make investment plans safe in the knowledge that our region’s connection to Heathrow is secure and that it has the capacity needed to support future economic growth.James Ramsbotham
“We would now urge MPs to support this positive decision as the National Policy Statement is brought forward.
“North East England is a globally-facing, exporting region and access to the UK’s international hub airport is a vital part of that success.
“A green light for airport expansion allows our businesses to make investment plans safe in the knowledge that our region’s connection to Heathrow is secure and that it has the capacity needed to support future economic growth.
“In the aftermath of the EU Referendum it is more important than ever that we, as a country and a region, are globally connected. This expansion emphasises our ambition.”
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said the focus was now on making sure the rest of the country benefited from the expansion of Heathrow: “With Brexit showing the future of our economy is unclear, it is vital investment into national transport infrastructure benefits the regions of the UK, especially regions such as the North East where we need to see more growth and investment, in order that we can deliver on the untapped economic potential our region holds,” she said.
“The expansion of Heathrow will benefit the North East greatly by allowing our region’s airports to become important commercial hubs which serve not only the needs of major conurbations in the North but also other regions in the UK and the rest of the world with improved connectivity.
“This is an absolute imperative when the North East’s export performance, as the only net exporter in the country, shows we have far more to be offered to our country’s economic future. Instead of squandering this potential, the Government must recognise and harness it so that it not only benefits our region’s economic development, but also the whole country’s.”