No 3rd Runway Coalition letter in Yorkshire Post: “Few benefits for regions if Heathrow is allowed to expand”
In a letter by the No 3rd Runway Coalition (NoR3) in the Yorkshire Post, they explain how Heathrow has been conducting a variety of lavishly funded public relations exercises to counter the widely held perception that its expansion would be yet another South-East-centric project, which can only further entrench the UK’s economic divisions. So Heathrow has claimed that a number of regions will become “logistic” hubs for the 3rd runway’s construction. Just 4 of these “hubs” will be chosen, but 65 regions are invited to bid – building up their hopes (and driving support for the runway). The NoR3 coalition say “By the time the 61 losers learn who they are, it is hoped that their regional leaders will have sold their souls, speaking up Heathrow expansion, to curry favour with the airport. Clever. But cynical. Equally contemptuous is the way in which Heathrow is using this stunt to claim economic benefits for the country, which is knows is not supported by the latest figures.” The correct figures for economic benefits for the UK from the runway are tiny (NPV – when costs are taken into account – of just £3.3 billion, for all the UK over 60 years, or even a negative figure…) and it is likely any possible benefits will be for the South East. Not the regions. Regional business people need to ask serious questions of Heathrow (and the DfT) on the reality of purported jobs and investment.
Few benefits for regions if Heathrow is allowed to expand
Monday 27 November 2017
Letter from No 3rd Runway Coalition, in the Yorkshire Post
From: Paul McGuinness, Chair, No 3rd Runway Coalition, London.
HEATHROW has been conducting a variety of lavishly funded public relations exercises to counter the widely held perception that its expansion would be yet another South-East-centric project, which can only further entrench our country’s economic divisions. And how better to do this than by placing 65 regions on a long list to become “logistic” hubs for the third runway’s construction, when they know that a maximum of only four locations can ever be chosen?
By the time the 61 losers learn who they are, it is hoped that their regional leaders will have sold their souls, speaking up Heathrow expansion, to curry favour with the airport. Clever. But cynical. Equally contemptuous is the way in which Heathrow is using this stunt to claim economic benefits for the country, which is knows is not supported by the latest figures.
The DfT now claims a maximum gross benefit of £74.2bn from Heathrow expansion (less than the £75.3bn for Gatwick), with a “Net Present Value” (i.e. when costs are also accounted for) ranging from just £3.3bn (over 60 years!) to minus £2.2bn. Per head of population – even at the top of this range – this equates to no more than the price of a coffee at one of Heathrow’s many profitable outlets.
It is far from clear that these paltry benefits could ever do very much for any region outside of the South-East, even if all their leaders had been tricked into suggesting otherwise, as they fought hard not to become one of the 61 losers in this “logistic hub” dance-off.
And rather than being pumped discredited figures by Heathrow, or their accidental proxies, regional business people will want to ask serious questions of Heathrow about how it can come anywhere close to delivering the jobs and investment that it has promised in its publicity stunts, based on the new, trusted, downwardly revised economic benefit figures.
Moreover, the serious business people who contributed to the CBI’s 2016 report “Unlocking Regional Growth” will know that, while businesses recognise the need for better links to international markets, they believe that flights need to fly directly to centres of trade and commerce.
In other words, that it will be through direct flights to the closest airports that the regions will become better connected – and not by concentrating (yet again) all the best infrastructure in the South-East.
Heathrow promises it makes at its “Business Summits” – next in East Midlands – exaggerated & based on flawed projections
Heathrow is holding another of its “Business Summits” on 23rd November, in Derby. The aim of these is to excite regional businesses about how much they could benefit from the building of a 3rd runway. However, while Heathrow claims there would be huge financial benefits for the whole country – using wildly exaggerated figures, the reality is very different. Heathrow persists in using a crazy figure of “up to £211 billion” economic benefits, even the DfT’s own reports indicate at most about £3.3 billion. That would be the “Net Present Value” over 60 years, for the whole of the UK, after taking off costs. The figure could be as low as minus (yes, a negative number) 2.2 billion. These are government figures, not numbers from anti-Heathrow campaigners. The 3.3 bn figure translates to under 50p UK resident per year. (ie. £3.3 bn divided by 70 million). It is difficult to see how such paltry benefits could “play a major role in boosting jobs and growth in the regions” outside of the South East, as Heathrow claims. The CBI’s 2016 report “Unlocking Regional Growth” identified that businesses want direct flights to centres of trade and commerce (i.e. without transfer before reaching their destination); in other words, that it will be through direct flights to the closest airports that the Midlands will become better connected. Not via Heathrow.
From DfT data (Oct 2017) showing minimal Heathrow economic benefits to the UK, over 60 years ( P 44 of DfT Updated Appraisal Report)
Heathrow plans 4 regional construction hubs for proposed runway, to give the impression of spreading jobs around UK
Four UK construction hubs are being sought by Heathrow to allow components of its £16bn expansion project to be built away from the airport. The logistics hubs will pre-assemble components for the proposed 3rd runway before transporting them to the airport. Heathrow claims this will make the project cheaper, and provide some jobs to other parts of the country. This form of construction may have been used in the housebuilding sector but had only had a “limited” role in major British infrastructure projects. The areas to have these construction hubs need to have good connectivity (road, rail?), have “a relevant supply chain and strong local skills”. Areas need to apply by July 31st, with a list of potential sites expected to be announced later this year. The airport can only start submitting its development consent order if the NPS is voted for in Parliament, and if the government wins the legal challenges. That could not be before spring 2018. Heathrow hopes, perhaps unrealistically, to have its runway built and working by 2025. Heathrow says it has used off-site locations before, with large parts of the structural steelwork for Terminal 2 building constructed in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In October 2016 the Scottish government said: “Heathrow will work with the Scottish Government to investigate Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of the third runway.” No mention of that now?
SNP misled by Heathrow inflated claims of number of jobs for Scotland due to a 3rd runway
The SNP decided to give its backing to a Heathrow runway, rather than one at Gatwick – having been led to believe that the only choice on offer was between these two. They were led, by Heathrow PR, to believe there would be greater benefits for Scotland. The SNP hoped to get exports from Scotland (salmon and razor clams) shipped through Heathrow. The Airports Commission came up with a figure of economic benefit from a Heathrow runway of UP TO £147 billion to all the UK over 60 years. Heathrow got a consultancy called Quod to work out the number of jobs. They came up with the figure of 16,100 jobs for Scotland (over 60 years) from the runway. The DfT has now downgraded the £147 billion figure, as it included various speculative elements, and double counted benefits. The new figure (also still far higher than the reality) from the DfT is UP TO £61 billion for the UK over 60 years. That, pro rata, would mean up to about 9,300 jobs for Scotland – not 16,100. It is unfortunate that the SNP were misinformed, as were other MPs, Chambers of Commerce etc across the regions. Heathrow also pledged benefits for Scotland such as using its steel for construction, and using Prestwick as a base. The Scottish Green party see the SNP backing of a Heathrow runway as a betrayal of those badly affected by it, and of Scotland’s climate commitments.