The Chairman of the Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership, Andy Street, who is also MD of John Lewis, is a key member of the organisation called London First, which produced a report in Feb 2012, wanting a 3rd Heathrow runway, mixed mode on both Heathrow runways, as well as a new hub airport, more lax planning restrictions, and public subsidy for aviation. As well as pushing for growth at Birmingham airport, Mr Street is also pushing for a new Heathrow runway, and has somewhat upset his colleagues in Birmingham by not seeing ”the issue from a national perspective and neglects the valuable role regional airports can play in satisfying this demand in both the short and long term.”
Greater Birmingham LEP chairman backs expansion at Heathrow Airport
The head of Birmingham’s enterprise partnership [MD of John Lewis], which is backing bold expansion plans at the city’s airport, has called for a third runway to be built at London’s Heathrow.
Andy Street, chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), helped draft a report which makes the case for a new runway in the south east.
The document, by a panel set up by The London First Connectivity Commission, makes no mention of Birmingham Airport’s calls for regional hubs to be allowed to increase passenger numbers to meet growing demand for air travel. [London First is a shamelessly pro-growth, pro-airport expansion, gung ho organisation. Details of its truly dreadful Feb 2012 report are at http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=7722 ]
And it dismissed as “unviable” suggestions that the advent of high-speed rail between London and the Midlands could create a “dual hub” involving Heathrow and Birmingham airports.
But Mr Street, who is also the managing director of store chain John Lewis, insisted the report caused him no embarrasment.
“I don’t see anything in the report that says we should not expand Birmingham Airport,” he said.
“The only reference to Birmingham is saying the dual hub model will not work. I stand by that.
“My view of Birmingham Airport is that there is capacity there ready to be used, and we will be lobbying hard for it to be used.”
Birmingham has been lobbying the Government to give it a key role in an aviation strategy to be published by Transport Secretary Justine Greening in the summer. The plans have the support of the LEP.
The airport argues it could double the nine million passengers it currently serves without building new infrastructure and could be serving more than 27 million people by 2030.
It has urged Ministers to make better use of existing regional airports rather than building new runways, or an entirely new airport, in the south.
But the London First report argues that Ministers should give the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow, despite both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats pledging to block any such development when they were in opposition.
Mr Street is one of nine “commissioners” responsible for the report.
He is also on the board of London First, the body representing major employers in the capital, which set up the panel.
Last year he was appointed chairman of Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, a partnership involving local authorities and businesses, which covers Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Redditch, Solihull, Tamworth and Wyre Forest.
The London First report warns new air capacity is needed – and must be created at Heathrow.
“Demand for flights in the UK is forecast to double [i.e 100% growth] by 2050, while demand for business flights is forecast to grow 80 per cent by 2030,” it states. [See the CCC report, April 2012, saying demand can only grow by 60% by 2050. Link Page 39 - para copied below ].
“All of London’s airports are forecast by government to be full by 2030. And of course, Heathrow’s runways are at permitted capacity limits now.”
It explicitly rejects the idea of creating a “dual hub” – linking Heathrow to another airport, perhaps by train, to effectively create a single hub airport over two sites.
It would take too long for passengers on connecting flights to transfer between airports and would cost airlines too much, the report said.
It continued: “It has also been suggested that, in the long term, the delivery of a new high speed rail network linking London and Birmingham by 2026 could create a ‘dual hub’ between Heathrow and Birmingham airport. The [London First Connectivity] Commission does not believe such a proposal is viable.”
And the report added: “We call on the government to amend the criteria for its review of national aviation policy to include the option of Heathrow expansion and to choose the best option for Britain.
A third runway at Heathrow appears to the Commission to be the most credible solution to meeting London and the UK’s vital need for increased hub capacity in the medium term (the next 15 years).”
But Mr Street said the LEP was pushing the Government to ensure Birmingham Airport benefited from the “city deal” which Ministers are currently negotiating with England’s eight “core cities” to devolve more power and funding to local level.
“We are seeking support for Birmingham Airport to be included in the city deal,” he said.
“One thing that is clear in the London First report is that, whatever happens in the south east, there is going to be a huge delay before new capacity is there. The so-called Boris Island proposal would need 25 years. A new Heathrow runway would need 15.
“One thing I feel very strongly about, and so does the LEP, is that we need a solution to capacity constraint now.
“But I think that is a different issue to what the hub airport is going to be in 20 or 30 years time.”
Mr Street said his John Lewis role was one of the reasons he had been asked to chair the LEP.
“It’s well known that I am a member of the London First board,” he said.
“My view is that it is in the interests of Birmingham that whoever is chairing the LEP should be involved in the London business community, with the access to Government that this involves.”
An [Birmingham] airport spokesman said: “The London First Connectivity Commission was set up to look at how London’s transport links can be improved to support the capital’s economy so this report is clearly going to be London-centric.
“Nevertheless, Birmingham Airport agrees with the main conclusion in the report, that in order to have future economic growth, the UK needs more aviation capacity and better connections to emerging markets.
“However, the report fails to see the issue from a national perspective and neglects the valuable role regional airports can play in satisfying this demand in both the short and long term.”
Good chance to boycott buying stuff from John Lewis !
Committee on Climate Change report, April 2012, Page 39:
Our review of aviation emissions in 2009 showed that there are various options for meeting
this target, including fuel efficiency improvement, operational efficiency improvement,
use of biofuels, modal shift and constraints on demand growth (Figure 3.1). We presented
scenarios with baseline demand growth of 150% from 2005 to 2050, falling to 115% when
exposed to a carbon price that reaches £200/tCO2 in 2050; in our ‘Likely’ scenario, emissions reductions were delivered through a 0.8% annual improvement in fuel efficiency, by meeting 10% of fuel demand with biofuels and by constraining demand growth to 60% from 2005 (a 75% increase from 2010 given that demand fell during the recession).