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Green airports are the key to London’s success

London’s Heathrow needs to be bigger and greener, insists business organisation London First today in response to the Government’s consultation on expansion at Heathrow.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, said:

“Maintaining London’s competitiveness is critical in the face of ever increasing global pressures. We jeopardise our world city status if we fail to cater for growing business travel.

“Business needs to fly. London is a centre of global financial trade. We don’t make cars or stainless steel cutlery. We make international financial deals and that means flying to meet clients and customers. At the same time, we must properly confront the environmental cost of flying.

“Heathrow needs to deliver world class performance, in international reach, in passenger service and in its performance against local and global environmental measures. Increased airport capacity is needed – but only if we put in proper mechanisms to reflect the environmental cost of more flights. Carbon emissions, noise and local air pollution need to be tackled through a combination of international agreements, Government regulation and incentives placed upon the airport operator and airlines.”

“Heathrow expansion has split debate, making it a straight fight between the ‘anti’ camp, calling for “no growth, not now, not ever” for Heathrow, and those pushing for “expansion at all costs”. This polarised debate brings much heat, but little light. We are perfectly clear – a bigger Heathrow can and must be greener.”

Main points from London First’s Heathrow consultation response:

1. Access to high quality international air travel is vital for business in London. Airport policy needs to allow for growing international business travel to maintain the UK’s global competitiveness and support London’s function as a leading world city. London’s world city status is at risk if airport capacity fails to provide for this growth.

2. Air travel and therefore airport expansion incur an environmental cost, both local and global. The need to expand Heathrow must go hand in hand with the need to confront the environmental cost of flying. The environmental conditions currently attached to Heathrow’s development do not amount to a reflection of the true cost of flying.

3. Heathrow’s development must be conditional on the delivery of high-quality public transport with additional measures to reduce road congestion in the vicinity of the airport. The timely introduction of localised road user charging requires serious consideration.

4. Even at the most optimistic assessment, it is unlikely airports will expand at a sufficient rate to meet unfettered demand. Optimising the efficient use of Heathrow’s current capacity is therefore a necessary condition of its future growth.

5. The development of Heathrow rests ultimately on the investment required to deliver it, in the absence of which national policy cannot be implemented. The regulatory regime must incentivise the long term investment in infrastructure and service levels needed to re-establish Heathrow as a world-class airport capable of responding to growing demand.

Notes to Editors

To read London First’s response to the Department for Transport Heathrow expansion consultation in full, please visit: London First response

London First is a business membership organisation whose mission is to make London the best city in the world in which to do business. London First undertakes this by mobilising the experience, expertise and enthusiasm of the private sector to develop practical solutions to the challenges facing London. London First also seeks to persuade central and London government to make the investments that London needs in its infrastructure

London First delivers its activities with the support of 300 of the capital’s major businesses in key sectors such as finance, professional services, property, ICT, creative industries, hospitality and retail. Membership also includes all of London’s higher education institutions as well as further education colleges and NHS hospital trusts. London First members represent 26% of London’s GDP.

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