London’s top businesses have overwhelmingly backed the expansion of Heathrow airport over another runway at Gatwick
More than twice as many leading companies would favour extra runway capacity at Heathrow rather than redeveloping Gatwick, according to a new survey by business interest group London First shared with Construction News.
Sixty-two (59 per cent) of 105 respondents opted for further growth at Heathrow, with plans by Terry Farrell to expand Gatwick winning support from just 26 members (25 per cent). Six favoured neither airport, while 11 said they did not know.
An overwhelming 95 per cent of respondents said expanding airport capacity should be a priority for the next government, with only 5 per cent saying it should not.
A majority of those surveyed (89 per cent) agreed that politicians should take swift action following the recommendation of the Davies Airports Commission, which is due to be released this summer.
London First has 210 members in total, including construction firms and developers such as Argent, Brookfield Multiplex, Grosvenor, Kier, Land Securities, Mace and Skanska.
Writing for Construction News, London First chief executive Jo Valentine said: ‘Businesses might have a preference over the location, but they are more than willing to back Davies regardless of that.
‘Indeed, in conversations with members, firms repeated this mantra again and again.’
The Davies commission published its interim report in December 2013, shortlisting three schemes: an additional runway at Gatwick and two different options for extra runway capacity at Heathrow.
A proposal for a new hub airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary, championed by Norman Foster and London mayor Boris Johnson, was left off the shortlist, before being formally ruled out after a feasibility study found it could cost up to £90bn.
Last November, the commission found that plans for Heathrow and Gatwick would cost £18.6 billion and £9.3 billion respectively, significantly in excess of the airports’ own estimates.
Commenting on the results of London First’s survey, a spokeswoman for Heathrow said it was the only airport that could connect British businesses with the world.
‘With expansion we can deliver up to 40 more long haul destinations, more freight exports and more connections to every part of Britain,’ she said.
favour Heathrow for expansion over 24.8 per cent, who back Gatwick
members agree that expanding airport capacity should be a priority for next government
members believe politicians should take swift action, following Davies Commission, against 10 members who said
But despite business support for Heathrow, Gatwick last month appointed a new development director, Raymond Melee, to lead its planned expansion.
A spokesman for Gatwick said a new runway for the South-east was ‘long overdue’.
He said both Heathrow and Gatwick had support but Gatwick was the only option that would provide business with the extra capacity and connectivity needed ‘up to five years sooner’ and with less cost, risk and environmental impact.