Birmingham Airport’s long-awaited runway extension finally set to fly
£100 million contract to build Birmingham Airport’s long-awaited runway extension and carry out major improvements to the A45 is expected to be approved within weeks. The airport and Birmingham City Council have shortlisted 4 construction companies for the work. The successful bidder is likely to be announced by March, with work likely to begin in the summer. The project claims it will bring jobs, boost the regional economy etc etc but has proved controversial with environmental groups including Friends of the Earth questioning the value of increasing the number of flights. FoE has been critical of the funding arrangements, with £26 million towards the £32 million cost of diverting the A45 coming from the public purse. Work to the A45 and the runway extension is expected to be completed by 2014.
30.1.2012 (Chamberlain Files)
£100 million contract to build Birmingham Airport’s long-awaited runway extension and carry out major improvements to the A45 is expected to be approved within weeks.
Fourteen construction firms that initially expressed an interest in the project have been whittled down to a shortlist of four, the city council cabinet was told.
Best and final offers are being evaluated by the airport and the council, and the successful bidder is likely to be announced by March, with work likely to begin in the summer.
The latest developments bring to a close years of uncertainty over the longer runway, which is needed to enable Birmingham to offer non-stop flights to China, India and the west coast of America.
The cumulative effect of the runway and improvements to the A45 expected to create hundreds of jobs at the airport and along the M42-A45 corridor, while also generating hundreds of millions of pounds for the regional economy.
However, the project has proved controversial with environmental groups including Friends of the Earth questioning the value of increasing the number of flights taking off and landing at the airport.
The group has also
The alignment of the road will be changed between Junction 6 of the M42 and Damson Parkway. A new traffic signal system will be installed along with capacity eventually to run the Midland Metro tram system from Birmingham city centre to the airport.
Work to the A45 and the runway extension is expected to be completed by 2014.
The cost of a longer runway was originally estimated to be £120 million, but the figure was cut to £65 million by reducing slightly the length of the extension and by avoiding the need to tunnel part of the A45.
Birmingham Council cabinet member for transportation and regeneration, Tim Huxtable, said the scheme would improve the airport for passengers as well as bringing economic benefits.
Coun Huxtable (Con Bournville) added: “This will bring a substantial boost to the local economy in terms of jobs created directly and indirectly and will make the airport work far more effectively.”
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Friends of the Earth comment:
Responding to the Chamber of Commerce’s proposals that the taxpayer invest money into Birmingham Airport rather than a new one in the South East, Joe Peacock of Birmingham Friends of the Earth stated:
“Not only is it environmentally irresponsible to encourage more public funding of airports, but is likely to increase the amount of job losses locally and the amount of money flowing out of the region as people fly abroad.
“In 2010, the number of British citizens travelling abroad for tourism from Birmingham Airport was 6 times the number of foreign leisure travellers coming in.
“The Thames Estuary airport plans are complete madness and never likely to be built, but using that to opportunistically propose even more government money to damaging the local environment and increasing noise here is equally reprehensible.
“We hope that the government’s new aviation policy will finally give us a framework that recognises the need for aviation to meet its environmental costs, as well as paying a fair amount of tax.”
Chamber calls for investment in Birmingham Airport instead of ‘Boris Island’
West Midland business leaders are calling on the Government to invest more in Birmingham Airport instead of another airport in the South East.Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG) said Birmingham Airport is a viable solution to London’s aviation capacity constraints.Mike Ward, president of BCCG, said: “Birmingham Airport can easily double its passenger numbers and when the runway extension is completed in 2014/15, business travellers will be able to take advantage of more direct flights.
“Birmingham Airport is the jewel in the UK’s crown that just needs a little polish, rather than the Government putting major investment into yet another airport in the South East.”
According to a British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) aviation survey, businesses see direct air links as vital to maintaining the UK’s prospects in global markets.The BCC survey found that 92% of business leaders in high growth economies say direct flights are important to inward investment decisions while 62% say they will only invest in the UK if flight connections are improved. [For a full copy of the report see here ]
Mr Ward added: “It is vital that cities such as Birmingham can attract foreign investment so that we can grow our economy and create private sector jobs.“Aviation is vital to this growth and the runway extension which is only two years from fruition, will allow us to access new markets.“
Operators such as Turkish Airlines already fly to over 180 destinations worldwide from Birmingham Airport.
“Birmingham has so many more opportunities for business travellers and we are confident that our airport can absorb a significant proportion of the demand from the rampant overcrowded South East.“A balanced and sustainable economy making maximum use of regional airports is what will encourage overseas business investment decisions.”