Report by Hounslow, Ealing and Slough councils says Heathrow closure would create 70,000 job losses
Date added: December 13, 2013
A new report commissioned by the London boroughs of Hounslow, Ealing and Slough Borough Council into the economic effect of Heathrow on the area, and the likely repercussions if it was to close. The report concludes that if Heathrow was to close, “up to 70,000 jobs across 3 boroughs neighbouring Heathrow would vanish, with devastating economic consequences, if the airport were to close in favour of a new hub airport elsewhere.” The three local authorities, all of which have differing positions on the future of Heathrow, were concerned that the local impact of any decision was not being given sufficient weight in the deliberations into how to increase airport capacity in the south east. The report, by Parsons Brinkerhof and Berkeley Hanover Consulting, sets out 6 possible scenarios for the airport – but it came out just before the Airports Commission leak indicating that it proposes one – or even two – Heathrow runways, with no suggestion whatsoever of it closing. The report contains estimates of the number of direct and catalysed jobs, caused by Heathrow, or proximity to it. The Leader of Ealing Council, said: “Thousands of local families depend on Heathrow for their livelihoods and the airport plays a critical role in the local economy. Closing it should not be contemplated.” It would appear that its closure is, indeed, not being contemplated. At all. . Tweet
Cataclysmic impact on employment from losing Heathrow
Up to 70,000 jobs across three boroughs neighbouring Heathrow would vanish, with devastating economic consequences, if the airport were to close in favour of a new hub airport elsewhere.
That is the dire warning from a new piece of research commissioned by the London boroughs of Hounslow, Ealing and Slough Borough Council, which concluded that other recent studies, including one by Heathrow Airport Limited itself, have underestimated the employment impacts of a scenario in which Heathrow closes.
The three local authorities, all of which have differing positions on the future of Heathrow, were concerned that the local impact of any decision was not being given sufficient weight in the deliberations into how to increase airport capacity in the south east.
The independent research, carried out by Parsons Brinkerhof and Berkeley Hanover Consulting, offers a comprehensive analysis of the impact on the economies in the three boroughs of the most likely longer-term options for future airport capacity in London and the south east in the period to 2030.
It sets out six possible scenarios for the airport, based on likely options the Davies Commission will consider in its imminent initial report. The final scenario, the closure of Heathrow in favour of a new hub in the Thames Estuary or elsewhere, sets out the cataclysmic impact of the airport’s closure on the three boroughs, risking some 70,000 jobs.
The ‘catalytic’ impacts (employment from attraction, retention or economic activity attributable to Heathrow’s international connectivity) could amount to as many as 250,000 jobs across a swathe of south west London, west London and surrounding areas, and are crucial to the debate about the future of Heathrow.
The data in the tables below shows the overall ‘Heathrow Effect’ and the extent of local workforce dependency within each borough. This combines recent estimates of direct, indirect and induced employment with the catalytic impacts.
Total mid (rounded)
Percentage of borough workforce (midpoint)
The study also contends that Heathrow’s hub status and transport links remain critical to the location decisions of many major corporate global headquarters and internationally-oriented UK companies.
This situation is particularly sensitive with regards to several business clusters located in proximity to Heathrow. For example, the IT/telecommunications cluster within Slough, Hounslow and in neighbouring local authorities would need to relocate and whether this cluster would move near to the new hub is highly debatable. It concludes: “There must remain a possibility that this cluster would relocate outside of the UK.”
Cllr Colin Ellar, Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “Losing Heathrow would be disastrous for jobs in Hounslow, for our neighbours in Ealing and Slough and as the report states, very likely for UK PLC.
“Sir Howard Davies and his commission colleagues need to take into account the economic wasteland they would create for employment if they go with the nuclear option of a brand new estuary hub. At a time when the UK’s economic recovery is in its fragile infancy and needs to be nurtured, it would plunge West London into a new recession from which it might never fully recover. The Commission has to sit up and take notice of the dire consequences for our local economy, as well as regional and national impacts.”
Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council, said: “Thousands of local families depend on Heathrow for their livelihoods and the airport plays a critical role in the local economy. Closing it should not be contemplated. The Davies Commission should take into account the economic impact of each of the options that are being considered and pay particular attention to this report which makes clear Heathrow’s importance to the success of Ealing and west London.
“That said, the environmental impact on our residents cannot be compromised, so we need a long-term solution that delivers quality of life and economic growth for west London.”
Councillor James Swindlehurst, Deputy Leader, Slough Borough Council said “Slough’s prosperous local economy is heavily reliant on the connectivity provided by Heathrow, with between a quarter and a third of our local population relying on jobs here because of the airport.
“Slough sits at the heart of the UK’s most prosperous region outside of London, and any threat to Heathrow as an international hub airport would be a reckless act; putting jobs at all levels and from all sectors in our town at risk.”
Closing Heathrow for a new hub airport would lead to the loss of up to 70,000 jobs in the surrounding area, according to research for three neighbouring borough councils.
A report for Hounslow, Ealing and Slough councils claims that recent studies have underestimated the impact on employment from the potential disappearance of London Heathrow.
The report comes as the Airports Commission, led by Howard Davies, prepares to issue an interim report giving a shortlist of options for airport expansion in south-east England. One option yet to be officially eliminated is a new hub airport with four runways to the east of London proposed by the London mayor, Boris Johnson.
Heathrow and airlines have stated that the only way such a new hub could operate would be if Heathrow closed down – a prospect that the mayor has embraced.
The research considers six possible scenarios for the airport and warns that if the Davies commission recommendations led to shutting Heathrow for a new hub, there would be a net loss of 70,000 jobs in the boroughs by 2030, given an estimate of as many as 250,000 jobs directly or indirectly induced by the west London airport.
Colin Ellar, deputy leader of Hounslow council, said: “Sir Howard Davies and his commission colleagues need to take into account the economic wasteland they would create for employment if they go with the nuclear option of a brand new estuary hub. At a time when the UK’s economic recovery is in its fragile infancy and needs to be nurtured, it would plunge west London into a new recession from which it might never fully recover.”
Leaders of all three parties at Medway Council have welcomed a report which states closing Heathrow airport to make way for an estuary airport would be an economic disaster.
The document, by the three London authorities of Hounslow, Ealing and Slough, warns that up to 250,000 people could lose their jobs.
It throws doubt over plans for an estuary airport in north Kent, which – in each of the different proposals – would require the closure of Heathrow.
Medway councillors say this latest report proves the proposals should be rejected.
Leader of Medway Rodney Chambers said: “The Hounslow report confirms the argument that we have been putting forward that there will be thousands of jobs lost.
“I’m very interested that their report says up to 250,000 jobs could be lost in the wider area.
“I’m pleased they’ve done this study because it adds weight to our argument against an estuary airport.”
Vince Maple, leader of the Labour Group on Medway Council, said: “I’ve been arguing for some time that one of the elements which is bad for the estuary airport is the impact on UK PLC.
“This report shows very clearly that both the directly employed and also the wider employment market in West London and beyond will be devastated by any estuary airport so I hope that the Davies Commission takes this into account very carefully when coming to their interim conclusions next week.”
Geoff Juby, the leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Medway Council, added: “I’m very surprised that this report hasn’t been done before because everybody has gone on about a new airport but if you close Heathrow it’s going to be an economic disaster for that part of London, as well as for UK PLC because all the transport links are done through Heathrow.”