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Three times as many support airport expansion as oppose it – London First survey

New poll reveals public support for increasing flights from London’s airports 

Far more people support enabling more flights from London airports than oppose, by a factor of 3 to 1, according to a new poll of UK voters commissioned by the business organisation, London First, and conducted by YouGov. Of the 1,045 respondents nationwide surveyed by YouGov on the 10th and 11th September, 43% supported an increase in flights and 14% opposed. Support was highest among 25-34 year olds, at 51%.

At the same time the poll has revealed that almost half of Britons (46%) are concerned that if no measures are implemented in the next 10 years to enable more direct flights from the capital this will have a negative impact on economic growth, whilst fewer than one in ten (8%) think this would have a positive impact.

Two-thirds backed improvements to public transport to existing airports that have room to grow, with 66% supporting, demonstrating a groundswell of public support for improved links to airports such as Gatwick and Stansted.

50% of respondents across the UK support making London Airports more accessible to those living outside the South East including the UK’s major cities – with strongest support polled in the West Midlands, where the figure rises to over six in ten (62%).

Almost half of Londoners polled support changes to enable more flights over the capital, whilst similar levels support the establishment of an independent noise regulator with the power to cut the noise that additional flights might cause.

Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive of London First said:

“The debate over airport expansion is often portrayed as the business community versus the wider community. What this poll suggests is that ordinary voters are also concerned that a lack of action to increase flights from London’s airports will stifle economic growth. Inaction is already costing the country billions in lost trade every year.

“In December the government will receive the initial recommendations of its Airports Commission on short-term measures to increase capacity. It needs to be ready to end the half-century of dithering that has plagued this issue and commit to swift action.”

London First has proposed a package of short-term measures that could be swiftly implemented. This includes:

• lifting the cap on the number of flights at Heathrow to provide around 10% more flights at Britain’s only international hub airport by allowing more intensive use of current runways

• the appointment of an independent noise regulator with real powers to intervene to win the trust and confidence of the communities living near airports

• improving the express rail links to Gatwick and Stansted to provide services comparable to that serving Heathrow

• a regulatory framework which allows both Gatwick and Stansted the best possible chance to compete for airlines and passengers

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