Worcester MP Robin Walker was in the chamber this week to vote in favour of expansion plans at Heathrow airport, with Worcester businesses and local government having expressed their firm preference for the addition of a third runway at the West London site to improve transport links and reduce journey times.
Construction on a third runway at Heathrow could start within 3 years following Monday’s historic vote in Parliament. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling formally designated the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), paving the way for Heathrow to now submit a formal planning application. It triggers the next step in a process that could see building work start in 2021 and the runway operational by 2026.
Heathrow expansion is expected to add £74 billion to the economy and ensure the UK maintains its position as a global leader in aviation. The north-west runway would be the first full-length runway in the South East of the UK since the Second World War. Building a new runway will improve connectivity within the UK and with international markets to boost trade, create jobs, increase choice and lower fares.
The Government has been careful to ensure the environment and local communities are protected. This is reflected by the safeguards included in the NPS, such as the enforceable ban on scheduled night flights for 6.5 hours, which is at least one hour longer than the current ban in operation. A new Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN) will provide expert advice on noise issues and link together operators, airlines and local communities.
Worcestershire County Council has long advocated Heathrow expansion as offering the greatest benefits to the county in terms of improved rail transport links, and members of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have also spoken out in support of the third runway to bring greater access to international markets.
Speaking after the vote, Robin said:
“I was pleased to be able to support the plans for expansion at Heathrow airport, which marks a momentous step for our country. Heathrow offers a vital link for Worcestershire businesses to access international markets, boost trade and create jobs, as well as improving connectivity within the UK itself. As we exit the EU this will send a very clear message to the world that this country is open for business.”
“I welcome the fact that Heathrow will be privately funded and that the costs will not be met by the taxpayer. It is also important to remember that expansion is set to create tens of thousands of jobs, and contrary to some reports is to be delivered within the UK’s current climate change obligations.”
“I am glad that the Government’s proposal was approved by such a significant majority from across the House, and I look forward to the next stages of this important project.”