Environmental campaigners have backed a warning from business and political leaders in the West Midlands that adding a runway in South East England will undermine regional airports.
Cait Hewitt, deputy director of the Aviation Environment Federation, told Transport Network: ‘A new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick would not only be bad news for the climate and for local communities, but also bad news for airports outside London and the South East.
‘Almost every airport in the country would lose out in terms of passenger traffic if either Heathrow or Gatwick gets a new runway, with demand becoming even more concentrated at the big London airports.
‘Birmingham could have 12% fewer passengers if Heathrow expands than in a “no new runways” scenario, or 5% fewer if Gatwick expands, the Airports Commission's own, well hidden, figures show.’
Heathrow Airport could get a new runway
Ministers are due to make a decision shortly on new aviation capacity in the South East following the Airports Commission’s recommendation last year that a new runway should be built at Heathrow, although expanding Gatwick remains a possibility.
In a letter to the prime minister, business leaders and MPs from the West Midlands wrote: ‘We urge the Government to consider the impact on all UK airports when making its decision on airport capacity in the South East, ensuring that any such decision allows for a competitive market in which airports can act as drivers for local growth in their regions.
‘Allowing a third runway at Heathrow would re-forge its monopoly, undermining the benefits brought by the break-up of the BAA, and restrict the growth of direct flights to and from our great regional cities.’
The letter followed reports that a Treasury minister had urged the prime minister to consider expanding Birmingham Airport as a way of tackling congestion in the skies above London.
It highlighted the regional airport's role in maximising the benefits of HS2 which will have a station there, and argued: ‘With HS2's arrival in ten years, the airport will become the UK's first high-speed connected airport and its catchment area will be dramatically enlarged into central London, giving it an increasingly national role.’