Businesses call for better use of existing South East airports to address capacity issues
Using existing capacity and building new runways at current airports serving the South East is the best way of tackling airport capacity over the next 20 years and beyond – a survey of business leaders for the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) has found.
The majority surveyed (64 per cent) oppose the development of a Thames Estuary airport, with only 8 per cent believing it to be the most feasible option.
Of the business leaders surveyed the expansion of Gatwick and Stansted were seen as among the most practical ways of solving Britain’s aviation capacity issues. Those surveyed agreed that Stansted (72 per cent) and Gatwick (72 per cent) should be expanded and each received 18 per cent for being the most feasible solution.
The survey also found that business leaders supported greater use of regional airports in and around the SE LEP area (77 per cent), including Manston and Southend, and a ‘Heathwick’ rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow (77 per cent).
SE LEP chairman, John Spence, said: “We know the UK is losing business now while our European counterparts are reaping the benefits.
“Business leaders are not convinced about the case for a Thames Estuary airport. The resounding message is that we should look at Gatwick, Stansted and our regional airports to enhance capacity now while a longer term solution is developed.
“While there is currently some spare capacity in our system we cannot wait for action to be taken to ensure that we remain a globally competitive place.”
Among the findings of the report were:
· With 45 per cent support the expansion of capacity and the building new runways at existing airports was seen as the best way of tackling capacity issues in the longer term (more than 20 years).
· 55 per cent supported the view that Heathrow should be expanded, although it was most likely to be seen to be the most feasible option (20 per cent).
· 69 per cent supported the development of the HS2 train line with 78 per cent believing there would still be a role for busy regional airports after the development of HS2
· 67 per cent felt the UK should expand Southend airport, while the development of Manston and Lydd also received support with 60 per cent and 52 per cent respectively agreeing they should be expanded.
The findings, which will be discussed by the SE LEP Full Board on Friday 28 June, will help inform the partnership’s long-term view on tackling airport capacity. They will also be submitted to the Davies Commission as part of their investigation into the issue.
Please see the SE LEP website for more information: