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Business leaders write to Theresa May to reiterate importance of Heathrow expansion

A host of business leaders have spelt out how “crucial” Heathrow expansion is if the UK is to succeed in forging new international links following its exit from the European Union.

A letter sent to Theresa May and signed by CBI’s Carolyn Fairbairn, British Chambers of Commerce’s Adam Marshall, and Stephen Phipson from ­manufacturing organisation EEFT urges the government to keep to a promised schedule so MPs can hold a vote on Heathrow’s expansion this year.

The government is due to timetable a vote on the Airports National Policy Statement, which is going to set out its airport infrastructure policy – including Heathrow expansion – in the first half of the year.

The letter which has been seen by the Sunday Telegraph is reported to say: “As Brexit approaches, Heathrow expansion is crucial to making sure the UK remains an outward-looking trading nation and is well-equipped to compete on the world stage. For British businesses, the benefits of expansion have always been clear: connections to new markets and trading opportunities, with better links with regional airports across the UK a boost to British exports, and a skills legacy for future generations.”

It also states how the UK continues to fall behind its European competitors and lack of expansion will result in the gap widening with Frankfurt, Amsterdam’s Schiphol and Paris’s Charles de Gaulle mentioned as the airports which are pulling ahead at the UK’s expense.

“The world is waiting for Britain’s businesses, but it won’t wait forever,” the letter added. “If we don’t do this now after decades of debate, Britain will not become the global trading powerhouse we know it can be. We therefore urge the government to crack on with the vote on Heathrow expansion as soon as possible.”

The letter by business leaders comes just days after rival bidder Heathrow Hub submitted a formal complaint to the Competition and Markets Authority in which it claims Heathrow abused its dominant market position by “effectively and unfairly vetoing” the extended runway option.

Heathrow has claimed it did not veto the extended runway and that the Airports Commission preferred its own north-west runway scheme.

Heathrow Hub director Jock Lowe said: “Our scheme is cheaper, quicker, quieter and easier to build than the third runway. After years of trying to work co-operatively with Heathrow Airport and the Department for Transport, we have decided it is time to take the gloves off. The consequence of Heathrow’s veto and the flawed process run by the DfT is that consumers and airlines are being saddled with its unnecessarily complex, noisy and expensive third runway which will take years to build.”

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