West Midlands business & political leaders write to Theresa May urging support for regional airport expansion
Business and political leaders from across West Midlands have signed a letter to Theresa May, well before the government is due to make an announcement on building a new south east runway (or expanding airport capacity in some other way). West Midlands business and political leaders want the government to support the growth of a competitive network of airports in the UK, rather than expanding still more in the South East. They want local airports that “can act as drivers for local growth in their regions.” They say: “Allowing a third runway at Heathrow would re-forge its monopoly, undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of the BAA, and restrict the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities.” Among the signatories of the letter are the chief executives of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Marketing Birmingham and Birmingham Airport as well as MPs and educational leaders. Earlier this week, it emerged the Prime Minister was considering the possibility of expanding Birmingham Airport as a way of increasing UK airport capacity. Birmingham people hope they will benefit from HS2, in 10 years’ time, when the fast rail link would increase their catchment area and speed the link to London. The Midlands plan to boost their economy and need government to make decisions that rebalance the UK economy.
Prime Minister urged to support regional airport expansion
15.9.2016 (Birmingham Post)
BY TAMLYN JONES
Business and political leaders from across West Midlands signed letter to Theresa May ahead of landmark decision on whether to expand airport capacity in the South East
Business and political leaders from the West Midlands have written to Prime Minister Theresa May urging her to support the growth of a competitive network of airports rather than expanding in the South East.
Among the signatories of the letter are the chief executives of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Marketing Birmingham and Birmingham Airport as well as MPs and educational leaders.
The Government is due to make a decision soon on whether to expand airport capacity in the South East – expected to be straight choice over whether to add a third runway to Heathrow or a second at Gatwick.
Earlier this week, it emerged the Prime Minister was considering the possibility of expanding Birmingham Airport as a way of tackling congestion in the skies above London.
The letter said: “We urge the Government to consider the impact on all UK airports when making its decision on airport capacity in the South East, ensuring that any such decision allows for a competitive market in which airports can act as drivers for local growth in their regions.
“Allowing a third runway at Heathrow would re-forge its monopoly, undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of the BAA, and restrict the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities.”
The letter highlights Birmingham Airport’s role in maximising the benefits of HS2 which will have a station there, stating that: “With HS2’s arrival in ten years, the airport will become the UK’s first high-speed connected airport and its catchment area will be dramatically enlarged into central London, giving it an increasingly national role.”
Commenting on the growth of the Midlands Engine, the signatories state the region could grow up to £34 billion by 2030 if the Government continues to make decisions in view of rebalancing the UK economy.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “Birmingham Airport’s growth and our region’s growth go hand in hand, with the airport plugging our businesses into global opportunities and attracting inward investment.
“We want a decision for the South East’s airport capacity that does not undermine direct connectivity to the Midlands Engine and supports a competitive network of airports, not a larger hub.”
Airport chief executive Paul Kehoe added: “A vibrant Birmingham Airport is vital to the growth of our region. Expanding Heathrow could threaten to stall the Midlands Engine.
“In contrast, a competitive network of airports would support the continued growth of our region’s connectivity and would maximise the benefits of HS2.”
The letter and signatories in full
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to welcome your backing of the Midlands Engine and to ask you to ensure that the region is not damaged by the forthcoming decision on extra runway capacity in the South East.
The West Midlands is a significant part of the Midlands Engine, an economy worth £222 billion and where, in 2015, private sector jobs grew three times faster than in London and the South East.
The West Midlands is home to Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city and to Birmingham Airport, the third largest UK airport outside London.
Birmingham Airport plays an integral role in the transport strategy of the Midlands, providing international connectivity to the region’s flourishing manufacturing sector, and supporting the West Midlands’ status as the leading export centre of the UK outside London and the South East.
The connectivity provided by Birmingham Airport contributed £1.1 billion GVA and over 25,000 jobs to the West Midlands economy in 2014.
The airport is a key driver of jobs creation and economic growth and its contribution to the economy is expected to increase as its connectivity increases.
As of this July, the airport has experienced 17 consecutive months of passenger growth including 32.8 per cent long haul growth compared to July 2015.
Birmingham Airport is also central to maximising the benefits of HS2. With HS2’s arrival in ten years, the airport will become the UK’s first high-speed connected airport and its catchment area will be dramatically enlarged into central London, giving it an increasingly national role.
To support this continued growth in our region and to maximise the benefits of HS2, it is vital that the Government supports a competitive network of airports across the UK rather than an expanded hub in the South East.
Allowing a third runway at Heathrow would re-forge its monopoly, undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of the BAA, and restrict the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities.
The Midlands Engine could grow up to £34 billion by 2030 if the government continues to make decisions in view of rebalancing the UK economy.
We therefore urge the Government to consider the impact on all UK airports when making its decision on airport capacity in the South East, ensuring that any such decision allows for a competitive market in which airports can act as drivers for local growth in their regions.
Paul Faulkner, chief executive, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Paul Kehoe, chief executive, Birmingham Airport
Steve Brittain, managing director, BSA Technologies
Jonathan Browning, chairman, C&W LEP
John Callaghan, principal, Solihull College
Simon Chapman, managing director, Yee Group
Rick Grain, founder, Effigy Blinds
Colin Leighfield, Director, BE Wedge
Tim Pile, executive chairman, Cogent Elliot
Neil Rami, chief executive, Marketing Birmingham
Bernard Shepherd, consultant, Clark Brookes Turner Carey Solicitors
Joan Smith, director, Solihull Chamber of Commerce
Stewart Towe, chairman, Black Country Consortium (LEP)
Chris Wheeler, director, Auditel
Adrian Wright, president, Black Country Chamber of Commerce
Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North
Jeremy Lefroy, MP for Stafford
Karen Lumley, MP for Redditch
Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr
Steve McCabe, MP for Selly Oak
James Morris, MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis
Gisela Stuart, MP for Edgbaston
Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South
Valerie Vaz, MP for Walsall South
James Carver, MEP for the West Midlands
Anthea McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands
Sion Simon, MEP for the West Midlands
Baroness Burt of Solihull
Possible re-consideration of expanding Birmingham airport, to rebalance UK airport capacity
The FT reports that Theresa May is considering expansion of Birmingham after, after the city is linked to London by the high-speed HS2 rail line. Jim O’Neill, the Treasury minister, has encouraged Number 10 to look at the growth potential at Birmingham airport, which would be about 40 minutes away from London when HS2 reaches the Midlands in 2026. Lord O’Neill, whose brief covers infrastructure and regional development, believes Birmingham would also offer good inks to the Northern Powerhouse cities of Leeds and Manchester once the HS2 northern extension is completed, perhaps by 2033. He thinks it would send “a massive signal on rebalancing the British economy,” away from just the south east. The Airports Commission very quickly narrowed down the sites it was considering for a runway to just Heathrow and Gatwick. Many believe this was a serious error, and they did not consider all the options fully. Now it appears there may be a free vote on the runway issue, as it is so contentious and many Cabinet members are against a Heathrow runway. The FT considers that though Mrs May’s administration believes it is too late for a Birmingham to be considered at this stage (why not?) expansion at Birmingham airport could be part of a longer-term airports strategy, for yet more future UK air travel.
Birmingham on track with £1bn HS2-fuelled investment
14 SEP 2016 (Birmingham Post)
BY NEIL ELKES
Prime Minister confirms bumper injection of capital in major regeneration project surrounding the future HS2 station in Birmingham’s Eastside district
Curzon Street Station in Birmingham City centre.Major regeneration is planned in the area around the former Curzon Street station
Prime Minister Theresa May has today confirmed a HS2-fuelled £1 billion investment in Birmingham city centre and hailed it as a sign the city is open for business post Brexit.
The investment will see new offices, a tram line and 4,000 new homes built around the planned Curzon Street HS2 rail station, creating 36,000 new jobs and generating £1.4 billion for Birmingham’s economy.
The funding will be used to deliver on the Curzon Street masterplan which was first unveiled last year to show how the area could be shaped around HS2.
Birmingham is the first UK city to use HS2’s arrival to support investment in regeneration and new development.
Mrs May said: “I’m delighted that Greater Birmingham is making this investment in the future, working to maximise the potential of HS2 by investing in jobs and housing – and encouraging more business investment.
“It was in Birmingham where I outlined my plan to build an economy that works for all, with a proper industrial strategy that delivers prosperity, job creation and higher wages across the country, not just in London.
“That’s what the Curzon Investment Plan aims to do in Greater Birmingham and my Government is right behind them.”
….. and there is a lot more of the article….