CONSERVATIVE and Labour MPs plus businesses and councillors from the West Midlands have united to call for spare capacity at Birmingham Airport to be used to ease congestion in the South-East.
Twenty Conservative and 10 Labour MPs and MEPs in addition to council leaders, Chambers of Commerce and businesses said in the long term, the development of Birmingham Airport as a major gateway at the centre of the UK would reduce unproductive travel time and leave Heathrow as a gateway for London and the south east.
In a letter published in the Daily Telegraph, they said: “A ‘hub airport’ in the South East favours a small, congested and already economically strong part of the country. We need gateways close to the manufacturing, research and development of the Midlands and the North, linking these regions directly to emerging markets.
“Overseas investors are discouraged from investing where there are no global links. For Britain, over-reliance on one large, full airport, risks national resilience and leads the rest of the world to believe there is just one gateway to this country.
“Airports in our industrial cities have huge spare capacity. Birmingham Airport’s current spare runway capacity is 27 million passengers per annum. Birmingham is at the heart of the rail and motorway networks, and its airport is the most accessible in Britain. The Airport and NEC station will be the hub of the proposed HS2 network. With its proposed second runway, Birmingham’s spare capacity could rise to over 50 million and create 50,000 jobs.
“We call on Government to encourage and assist airports to work with local enterprise partnerships and stakeholders. Infrastructure planning needs to provide confidence for airports to be able to plan well into the future. The Government must support expansion of Birmingham’s airport to maximise the regional growth.”
However it may have come too late as the Chancellor George Osborne has appeared to indicate that a third runway at Heathrow might be back on the cards.