Peter Read, Chairman of Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Ltd
Over six months ago the long awaited Davies Commission report on airport capacity was published, and we believed London and the south-east would finally make headway in an area that has been neglected by subsequent governments for generations. Though one of the recommendations was to expand Heathrow, several conditions were stipulated. Today, Heathrow announced it will meet and, in most cases, exceed these conditions, which the LEP welcomes.
Thames Valley Berkshire is at the centre of a fiercely competitive area that desperately needs to facilitate more and better aviation links from an expanded Heathrow. This is crucial to maintaining our competitive advantage; globally. Within the so-called Western Wedge area (comprising West London and parts of the South East radiating out from London along the M40, the M4, the M3 and the A3) the aviation and related activity at Heathrow Airport directly supports 120,000 jobs and £6.2billion to the economy – numbers that are likely to decline if Heathrow is not expanded. However, an expanded Heathrow would have a significantly beneficial effect on the Western Wedge economy – creating an additional 33,000 jobs and generating an extra £3.4 billion of economic output by 2040. These are not insignificant numbers as the Davies Commission has already acknowledged.
Our position is not oblivious to the environmental issues that airport expansion poses, particularly the effects of aircraft noise on local communities, and we recognise that this is a huge decision for Government. However, it’s now time to let the evidence do the talking and get on with delivering a third runway on time.