This is what businesses think of the Heathrow expansion decision

In a controversial move, government has given the green light to a third runway at Heathrow. Is the decision welcomed by the business community?

On Tuesday, the government gave approval for a third runway at Heathrow airport to expand UK air capacity; a decision which has been marred by controversy.

Immediately after the news came to light, Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith resigned in protest – forcing a by-election in his constituency of Richmond Park – Boris Johnson dubbed the £17bn expansion project “undeliverable”, and there has been an outcry from local Heathrow residents who may lose their homes.

On the flip side, Sir Richard Branson has hailed the decision; arguing that it will create “hundreds of thousands of jobs” and boost competition among airlines.

So what do the UK’s business owners think of the creation of a third runway?

Do they share Branson’s view that it will be a boost to business? Or Goldsmith’s stance that the government has chosen the most “polluting, disruptive and expensive option”? We asked a handful to find out…

“Win-win for businesses”

Dafydd Llewellyn, managing director of UK SMB & Nationals at Concur, supports the creation of a third runway. He says:

“The main thing is that this is going to be a much-needed investment in UK infrastructure – an infrastructure that has been creaking for some time now. A third runway is especially good news for small and medium-sized companies which are trying to grow.

“The decision is a win-win for businesses. In the short term companies in and around Heathrow will profit, and in the longer term, the additional destinations will help businesses reach and connect with new audiences; vital for the UK to remain a key figure in the globalised economy. The bottom line is: businesses will benefit from this.”

“The wrong decision in the long-term”

James Brueton, director of EnviroBuild, thinks that the government is being short-sighted in its approach:

“Airport expansion is not the right long-term direction of travel for the UK if we really want to build a sustainable future. It’s about more than just the disruption, cost or noise pollution it will cause; the real issue here is that, yet again, the government has confused the need to promote Britain as being ‘open for business’ with thinking that the only answer is the short-term, vote-winning solution of expanding heavy, carbon-emitting industry and transport infrastructure.

“It happened with fracking, it happened with HS2 and now it’s happened with Heathrow too. Of course we need to create a commercially sustainable green future, but the answer lies in places like tech start-ups and electric vehicle networks, not a new runway.”

“After our vote to leave the EU, we have to expand airport capacity to remain competitive”

Sally Alington, managing director of Blackjack Promotions, believes that now is a better time than ever for airport expansion:

“The news that Heathrow expansion is getting the green light from the government is brilliant, although personally I believe Gatwick also should get significant investment to future-proof it as well.

“The UK must expand its airport capacity, particularly after our vote to leave the EU, if we want to remain competitive in world markets. Given some of the massive infrastructure projects under way around the world, Heathrow would have fallen further and further behind in terms of passenger capacity and also in terms of the passenger experience, which is becoming an increasingly important element when it comes to air travel.”

“It’s time for the government to put the needs of London and the UK ahead of short-term political concerns”

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, wants the government to add runways to both Heathrow and Gatwick airports:

“Today’s progress towards expanding Heathrow is welcome, but we must not let airport expansion become a binary choice between two feuding airports. London would benefit culturally and economically from airport expansion at both Heathrow and Gatwick, and the new government should have the courage to rise above politics and add runways to both. It is time to put the needs of London and the UK ahead of short-term political concerns and make this investment.”

“Heathrow should be the start of a conversation – not the final word”

Hugo Burge, CEO of Momondo Group, agrees with Shaw and is keen for the government to create further runways and to act swiftly to make sure “progress is made”:

“The holding pattern the government has now entered in to means the decision to grant Heathrow its third runway has been met with a degree of skepticism – this further delay will only hamper the expansion process and at continued expense of the UK economy. It is time for the Government to act with urgency to ensure that progress from now on is swift and not bogged down by further politicking.

“The third runway is essential to the UK’s future health as an economic hub, and slow action could see the £147bn benefit the Airports Commission previously projected slip through the nation’s fingers. We need to create a more connected UK to cater to an increasingly open world, so we believe Heathrow should be the start of a wider conversation – not the final word.

“To help post-Brexit Britain and the travel industry continue to thrive, the suggestions of additional runways at the likes of Gatwick or Manchester should be considered sooner rather than later.”

What’s your view on the creation of a third runway at Heathrow airport? Share your thoughts in the comment box below or Tweet us @startupstowers 

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