Fresh calls made for Birmingham Airport expansion

Tuesday 04 September 2012 Updated: 04/09 12:10

Buy photos » Let Birmingham Airport, says a group of politicians and businesspeople.

BIRMINGHAM Airport should be expanded in favour of a third runway at Heathrow.

Solihull's Labour leader David Jamieson and NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi are among a group of politicians and businesspeople to make fresh calls for the airport to help ease the pressure on Heathrow.

In a television interview at the weekend chancellor George Osborne suggested making Heathrow bigger was still an option despite it being ruled out in the manifestos of the Conservatives and their coalition partners the Lib Dems.

In a letter published in Thursday's Daily Telegraph, the group said the long term development of Birmingham as a major gateway at the centre of the UK would reduce passengers' travel time to Heathrow which could serve as a gateway for London and the South East.

Current spare runway capacity meant it could handle an extra 27million passengers a year.

It is also considered the country's most accessible in Britain because of its location at the heart of the rail and motorway networks.

"A ‘hub airport’ in the South East favours a small, congested, and already economically strong part of the country," the letter read.

"We need gateways close to the manufacturing, research and development of the Midlands and the North, linking these regions directly to emerging markets.

"Overseas investors are discouraged from investing where there are no global links. For Britain, over-reliance on one large, full airport, risks national resilience and leads the rest of the world to believe there is just one gateway to this country.

"Airports in our great industrial cities have huge spare capacity.

"Birmingham Airport and NEC station will be the hub of the proposed HS2 network. With its proposed second runway, Birmingham’s spare capacity could rise to over 50 million and create 50,000 jobs.

"As local politicians and business leaders, we call on Government to encourage and assist airports to work with local enterprise partnerships and stakeholders.

"Infrastructure planning needs to provide confidence for airports to be able to plan well into the future. The Government must support expansion of Birmingham’s airport to maximise the regional growth.”

The letter has been signed by 20 Conservative and 10 Labour MPs and MEPs in addition to council leaders, Chambers of Commerce and many businesses from the Midlands.

In response to the letter Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, added: "Unlike other UK airports, we are in a unique position to grow in size straight away.

"In a few years' time, following the completion of our runway extension, we could handle over 36 million passengers a year."

To The Editor, Daily Telegraph,

With the current debate raging about the future of the UK aviation, focus remains that a 'hub airport' in the South East offers a single solution to the future aviation needs of the United Kingdom. But this continues to favour a small, congested, and already economically strong part of the country. The current debate apparently ignores the immediate and future economic needs of the UK as a whole.

Economic rebalance around the regions will help resuscitate our wider economy. To secure growth, we need gateways close to the manufacturing, research and development of the Midlands and the north, linking these regions directly to BRIC and other emerging markets.

Evidence suggests overseas investors are discouraged from investing where there are no global links. For the UK, over-reliance on one large, full airport, risks national resilience and leads the rest of the world to believe there is just one gateway to this country.

Airports in our great industrial cities have huge spare capacity. In the West Midlands, Birmingham Airport’s current spare runway capacity is 27 million passengers per annum.

Birmingham is at the heart of the rail and motorway networks, and its airport is the most accessible in the UK. The Airport and NEC station will be the hub of the proposed HS2 network, potentially with half of the population less than one-hour away.

Longer-term, developing Birmingham as a major gateway at the centre of the UK would reduce unproductive surface travel time and leave Heathrow as a gateway for London and the South East.

With its proposed second runway, Birmingham's spare capacity could rise to over 50 million and create 50,000 jobs in an area with some of the UK’s highest pockets of persistent unemployment.

We call on Government to encourage and assist Airports to work with Local Enterprise Partnerships and stakeholders to declare longer-term options to benefit UK Plc. They should examine how the impact on local communities can be mitigated, and a balance be struck between employment, economic growth, and local nuisance.

Government infrastructure planning needs to both recognise airports and provide sufficient confidence for airports to be able to plan well into the future both their contribution and connectivity. But in so doing, recognise that UK aviation is not just a South East issue, but is a driver for regional economic growth – growth in areas that have languished behind the South East. Importantly, Government must support expansion of Birmingham’s airport to maximise the regional growth opportunity.

We must encourage growth now. The solution should lie at the heart of the UK in the Midlands.

Yours Sincerely,

Conservative West Midlands MPs

Mark Garnier

Michael Fabricant

Mark Pritchard

James Morris

Jesse Norman

Richard Shepherd

Aidan Burley

Andrew Griffiths

Chris Kelly

Harriett Baldwin

Paul Uppal

Robin Walker

Dan Byles

Marcus Jones

Daniel Kawczynski

Gavin Williamson

Margot James

Conservative West Midlands MEPs

Philip Bradbourne

Malcolm Harbour

Anthea McIntyre

Labour West Midlands MPs

Ian Austin

Gisela Stuart

Steven McCabe

Valerie Vaz

Dave Wright

Adrian Bailey

Tom Watson

Khalid Mahmood

Liam Byrne

Emma Reynolds

Labour Council Leaders

Cllr. David Jamieson (Solihull)

Cllr. Tim Oliver (Walsall)

Cllr. John Mutton (Coventry)

Cllr. Darren Cooper (Sandwell)

Conservative Council Leaders

Councillor Mike Whitby

(Leader of the Conservative Group and former Leader of Birmingham City Council)

Chambers of Commerce

Jerry Blackett

Chief Executive

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group

West Midlands businesses.

Neil Rami

Marketing Birmingham

Charlie Shiels

GeoPost UK LTD

Kate Beech

Noble-Lancaster Partnership

David Smith

Mezenet Solutions Ltd

David Sedgley

Roadlink International Ltd

Fay Goodman,

Goodmedia Limited

Dean Parnell

Sydney Mitchell LLP

Michael Ward

Gateley LLP

Steve Brittan

BSA Machine Tools Ltd

Parveen Mehta

Minor Weir Willis Ltd

Byron P Head

Rical Group

Graham Eden

Cognitor Ltd

Steve Allen

Mills & Reeve LLP

Simon Topman,

The Acme Whistle Co Ltd

Marc Stone

Stone Consulting Ltd

Adrian Burton

Erlsmede Consulting Ltd

Glenn Howells

Glenn Howells Architects Limited

Terry Gibbs

Harrow Green Ltd

Ian Greaves

KPMG LLP

Colin Leighfield

Wedge Group Galvanizing Ltd.

Paul Schnepper

Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport

Bill Almen

Al Fereej Trading UK Ltd

Stephen Jones

Clear Solutions Wealth & Tax Mangement Ltd

Professor Mary Carswell

Birmingham City University

Balwinder Dhanoa

Progress Care Solutions

K. Raindi

K&K Clothing

Clayton Shaw

Sampad

Ms Amina Bukhari

Acorn Primary School

Sangeeta Nazran

UK Property group

Levi Cheng

Guerbet Laboratories Ltd

Mrs Joy Farrall

Learning Impact International Ltd

Mark Tonks

Mark Tonks & Associates Ltd

Mark Petty,

NextiraOne UK

Rick Grain

Effigy Blinds Ltd

Ronnie Brown

Hotels.tv/Birmingham

David Caro

Federation of Small Businesses

Craig Errington

Wesleyan Assurance Society

Paul Thandi

The NEC Group

Richard Holt

Evans Derry Solicitors

Calum Nisbet,

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

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