Heathrow in Scots export push amid runway battle

An artist's impression of Heathrow's planned third runway. Picture: Heathrow Airport/PA Wire

An artist's impression of Heathrow's planned third runway. Picture: Heathrow Airport/PA Wire

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Research commissioned by Heathrow has highlighted its contribution to Scottish exports as the battle for a new runway between London’s largest airport and rival Gatwick ­continues.

As part of the current Export Week activities backed by UK Trade & Investment, Heathrow surveyed key business figures in Scotland on their attitudes towards selling abroad. Nearly half – 46 per cent – said exporting allows them to expand and directly hire new staff.

During the year to the end of July, a total of more than £48 billion of UK exports left via Heathrow, with machinery such as cogs, wheels and transport equipment topping the list. Campaigners for a third runway say expansion would double UK exports, with direct benefits for the Scottish economy.

However, the UK government is also considering a rival bid for a second runway at Gatwick, with supporters claiming this would be cheaper and less harmful in terms of noise pollution. A recent YouGov poll commissioned by Gatwick found Londoners prefer expansion at Gatwick by 44 to 33 per cent.

A decision is expected by the end of this year, with reports suggesting that the Heathrow plans will most likely secure government backing.

Heathrow’s Export Week celebrations – including an exhibition in Terminal 5 where Walkers Shortbread is one of 25 regional businesses represented – come amid concerns about slowing sales of Scottish goods overseas. Last month, the country’s manufacturers reported the sharpest fall in export orders since 1994, according to the latest CBI industrial trends survey.

Emma Gilthorpe, strategy director at Heathrow, said the airport forms part of the support network that helps businesses across Britain “to reach dining tables and markets across the world”.

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