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London business: airport expansion must address environmental costs

London’s business community has today said that airport expansion – critical to UK competitiveness – must address environmental costs.

Responding to the consultation launched today by the Department for Transport, Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First, set out the views of its 300 members. She said:

“The strength of London’s economy depends on its success as a world city and for many business sectors, that means being able to fly to meet their customers, peers and suppliers.  They need to fly.  But London’s business leaders have a highly responsible approach to the local and global environmental implications of aviation.  They would make Heathrow expansion conditional on facing up to those implications.”

In a survey of London First members, who represent over 300 of London’s leading employers, 72% believe that environmental conditions – both local and global – have to be met for expansion at Heathrow Airport.  However, London’s world city status is at risk without expanding airport capacity.

86% of London First members surveyed also believe air accessibility is vital to maintaining London’s competitiveness.  Business travel represents around 27% of travel from London’s airports – and 35% at Heathrow.  And when choosing where to locate headquarters, business rates easy access to markets, customers and clients as the most important factor affecting their decision.

Baroness Valentine also urged better use of existing facilities.  She said:

“With the right investment in an extra runway and additional measures to confront its environmental impact, alongside better use of air space and slots, Heathrow can once again be the best airport in the world.”

London First is calling for the following environmental measures to accompany expansion:

  • Investment in improved public transport access to the airport
  • Air Passenger Duty (APD) ring-fenced and used to fund measures to improve the local environment
  • Carbon Pricing/International Emissions Trading Scheme – proper pricing of carbon across all sectors.  The EU Emissions Trading Scheme is the first step.


– Mid range estimates from the Department for Transport (DfT) suggest that the number of passengers at UK airports will more than double to 465 million by 2030 (with a 2nd runway at Stansted and 3rd runway at Heathrow)
– Around 57% of that total UK demand will be for airports in London and the South East

– ENDS –

Notes to editors

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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