Scots firms demand end to delays over Heathrow/Gatwick runway decision

An aircraft flies over residential houses in Hounslow as it prepares to land at Heathrow. Picture: Getty Images
An aircraft flies over residential houses in Hounslow as it prepares to land at Heathrow. Picture: Getty Images
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The UK Government must urgently decide on a new runway for Heathrow or Gatwick, groups representing 11,000 Scottish firms demanded today.

For the first time, all 22 of the country’s chambers of commerce united with business leaders to call for no further delays after an independent commission recommended a year ago that Heathrow should be expanded.

The move comes two days after ministers said a decision had been postponed from the summer and was now “likely to be in October at the earliest”.

The letter to new UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, whose other signatories include Wood Group chairman Sir Ian Wood, is the latest sign of increasing impatience among businesses.

A previous delay last December was denounced by the British Chambers of Commerce as “gutless”.

The letter, organised by the lobby group Let Britain Fly, stated: “The decision to build a new runway is not just about London and the south-east, it is a decision that affects the economic prosperity of the nations and regions of the UK, including Scotland.”

It said one third of overseas Scottish visitors arrived via Heathrow.

“A lack of capacity across the London airports network has negatively impacted on Scotland’s connectivity, with many key routes between Scotland and London having been cancelled or had their frequency reduced.

“Having more available slots into London airports as a consequence of airport expansion is something we believe Scotland would benefit from hugely.”

Many of the major chambers of commerce, such as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness, back Heathrow.

Glasgow Airport also favours Heathrow. However, Edinburgh Airport –Scotland’s busiest – supports Gatwick, which is under the same ownership, and declined to sign the letter.

Chief executive Gordon Dewar said: “A new Heathrow monopoly would suck the life out of airports outside London.”

Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs yesterday: “Some further work is being done in relation to the question of air quality around the various proposals that were put forward, and the cabinet and Government will be taking a decision on this in the proper way in due course.”