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Cash crisis hits runway

BIRMINGHAM International Airport’s plans for expansion could be the latest scheme to fall victim to the recession.

BIRMINGHAM International Airport’s plans for expansion could be the latest scheme to fall victim to the recession.

Proposals to extend the airport runway by 400 metres were finally given the green-light by Soli hull Council in April.

But it has emerged that the £120m development is struggling to get off the ground - with airport bosses hunting for financial backing.

Paul Kehoe, BIA’s chief executive, has appealed for help from the West Midlands Minister Ian Austin to ensure the project continues.

“We have a recession but, in terms of trying to borrow money, the banks will lend and we have credit-worthiness. However, trying to get a decent rate of interest is a nightmare,” he said.

Mr Kehoe has also questioned the business case for the extension, which at one stage was due for completion by 2012, given the current climate.

There are also question marks over a £25m government grant which would enable work to start on diverting the A45 for the project.

It’s possible the EU will intervene as the scheme did not qualify for an airport expansion award.

Meriden MP Caroline Spelman said: “Without this vital funding of £25 million, the West Midlands could lose out to both north and south.

“We don’t want Birmingham Airport to become the poor relation in this matter.”

Mrs Spelman has now written to the chairman of the Regional Development Agency about the matter.

The runway extension has been backed by business chiefs - who say it will create around 16,000 jobs. However, groups like Friends of the Earth had condemned the development.

 

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