Local Enterprise Partnerships and their lobbying for expansion of their airports

There are Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the areas of influence of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports (and others). These LEPs were set up to lead economic growth and job creation within its local areas. So not surprisingly, they all back expansion of the airport within their area.  In June a large number of people from the public and private sectors met at the Gatwick Diamond Economic Growth Forum  on the subject of aviation growth. The Coast to Capital” LEP urged those attending to” find their voice and speak out in support of capacity expansion at Gatwick Airport, as they will benefit from the resulting economic growth.” At Heathrow the Enterprise M3 LEP, including a number of local business leaders, has had a meeting to hear about Heathrow’s current position on aviation capacity in the UK. They concluded that maintaining and developing Heathrow’s position as an international airport hub was vital to the economic success of the Enterprise M3 area – and that any change in hub status would result in a loss of jobs from the area.  Stansted’s LEP is also very supportive of its expansion.



Map showing location of LEPs in the UK

In England, a local enterprise partnership (LEP) is a voluntary partnership between local authorities and businesses formed in 2011 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to help determine local economic priorities and lead economic growth and job creation within its local area. They carry out some of the functions previously carried out by the regional development agencies which were abolished in March 2012.



2 July 2013 (Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership press release)

Maintaining and developing Heathrow’s position as an international airport hub is vital to the economic success of the Enterprise M3 area. This was the key message that came out of a recent meeting in Woking of the area’s business leaders.
Over 25 key business leaders, including senior managers from Skanska, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Carillion, attended the meeting, organised by the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, to hear about Heathrow’s current position on aviation capacity in the UK.
Speaking at the meeting, Nigel Milton, Director of Policy & Political Relations, said: “We, at Heathrow, have really valued this opportunity today to meet with business leaders from the Enterprise M3 area and put forward our case for Heathrow as the hub airport for the UK.
“Our belief is that if the UK Government wants to expand its airport capacity, the fastest and most cost effective way to do this is to expand Heathrow. By doing this, they will be building from a position of strength; boosting airport capacity that is already there and, thus, connecting our country to the growth we need.”
Businesses attended also had the opportunity to discuss their views on the importance of Heathrow to their businesses. They voiced concerns that included:
  • That many of the big businesses in the area are here because of its proximity to Heathrow. There is genuine concern that if Heathrow is no longer the UK’s hub airport, many businesses may move out the area.
  • That the current debate is creating “a generation of uncertainty” over the future of Heathrow resulting in business opting to locate to other global centres whose long-term future is known.
  • That any change in hub status would result in a loss of jobs from the area. It is estimated that up to 63,200 could lose their jobs should Heathrow lose its hub status[1]. In Spelthorne, 3,900 residents who currently work at Heathrow could lose their jobs which would lead to a rise in unemployment from 5% to 12%. There are also 3,500 other jobs in related industries located in Spelthorne which could be lost.[2]
  • Businesses recognised that the area had real economic advantage through close proximity to both Heathrow and Gatwick and pressed for infrastructure improvements to enable easier access for all residents and business.
Geoff French, Chair of the Enterprise M3, said: “Today was an incredibly important meeting of minds. Business leaders from across the Enterprise M3 area got the opportunity to hear, from Heathrow directly, why it is proposing that it should be the only hub airport in the UK. At the same time, they were able to tell Heathrow what issues regarding aviation capacity are important to their business.
“Business has been repeatedly telling us how critical the access and the status of Heathrow is to their success. We will be continuing to champion the need for aviation capacity and I would encourage all companies whose business is impacted by this issue to make your voice heard to Government, either individually, using business organisations or through the LEP.”
End notes
[1] Heathrow – Best Placed for Britain: “In total, the potential loss of employment due to the closure of LHR could amount to up to 33,500 residents’ jobs and 29,700 other jobs in the area. With the potential to have over 13% unemployment, Hounslow, Hillingdon , Slough and Ealing could be amongst the 10 boroughs with the highest unemployment rates in the country.
[2] Heathrow – Best Placed for Britain.
Notes to the Editor 
  1. Heathrow’s report, “Heathrow – Best Placed for Britain” can be downloaded at www.heathrowairport.com/static/HeathrowAboutUs/Downloads/PDF/best-placed-for-britain_LHR.pdf
  2. Enterprise M3 is the Local Enterprise Partnership for an area which covers the New Forest through Hampshire up to the M25 including major centres such as Aldershot, Winchester, Basingstoke, Woking and Guildford, an area which encompasses over 1,600,000 residents and 81,500 businesses; accounting for nearly 20% of the South East’s economic prosperity.
  3. Local Enterprise Partnerships are business–led and work with other public sector organisations such as local authorities, in partnership, across natural economic areas. They provide the vision, knowledge and strategic leadership needed to drive sustainable private sector growth and job creation in their area.
  4. Enterprise M3 drives prosperity in the M3 Corridor and champions the needs of businesses, actively listening to and engaging with them. Enterprise M3 recognises the importance of the environment and the quality of life for those who live and work in the area.
  5. Enterprise M3 can be contacted via www.enterprisem3.org.uk or by emailinginfo@enterprisem3.org.uk.






3 June 2013  (Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership – press release)

29 May 2013: Business leaders from across the Gatwick Diamond have been urged to find their voice and speak out in support of capacity expansion at Gatwick Airport, as they will benefit from the resulting economic growth.

Almost 200 people from the public and private sectors gathered to listen and discuss issues around aviation growth at the Gatwick Diamond Economic Growth Forum on 23 May at the Arora International Hotel, Crawley. The event was sponsored by the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, ASBlaw, and supported by many business organisations including Gatwick Diamond Business, the Surrey and Sussex Chambers of Commerce, and the Coast to Capital LEP.

As well as the impact of aviation growth on the local economy, panel discussions were held recognising that investment in infrastructure, housing and transport will all be critical. Following the opening of the Forum by Henry Smith MP and Paul Gresham, the Chair of the Gatwick Diamond, Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport was interviewed by Greg Burgess of ASB Law about his short and long term plans for the airport. Then, local business leaders from Elekta, Canon UK, RBS, Nestle, ILG, and Metrobus voiced their views.

Henry Smith MP said: “The Gatwick Diamond is a region important for driving economic performance for the UK as well as the local economy.” He said “everyone has an important role to play to ensure its future success”.

Stewart Wingate summarised Gatwick Airport’s contribution to the local economy (including its employment of more than 25,000 people) and underlined the benefits of its billion pound investment plans. He also spoke of the airport’s commitment to doing business with local companies to support the area’s general economic vibrancy and his desire to deregulate the airport to enable better competition. He said that the Gatwick submission to the Airports Commission in July would include a second runway, although no decisions would be made by government until 2015.

All speakers agreed that an independent and impartial consideration of the economic benefits of aviation growth must be formalised in order to provide an informed and robust response to the Davies Commission. There were also calls for further investment into the area’s surface access transport connections – a key factor in companies relocating and remaining in the area.

Rosemary French, Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative said: “The Gatwick Diamond is a £19 billion economy of national importance, and is widely recognised as a key area of future investment and growth. We are now at a crossroads which will determine the local economy of the future. On the question of aviation capacity, it is vital that the views of the business community are voiced loud and clear and taken into account. This Forum has helped focus minds on the issues, opportunities and threats to economic growth in our region.”








At Stansted also, the Local Enterprise Partnership (The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP)) is very enthusiastic about the airport’s future expansion.


The 11th June sees the launch of the London-Stansted-Cambridge Corridor Consortium (LSCC) at a major conference in Kings Cross.

“This corridor links the world’s leading university (Cambridge) with the world’s leading city (London).  They are connect by extensive rail and road links that shape commuter journeys and supply chains, and provide a positive platform for smart and green growth. In the middle of this corridor is Stansted International Airport that has the required infrastructure and existing planning agreement to double its size of activity without any expansion – its current un-used capacity representing a quarter of that of the whole of Heathrow.”