CBI and tech sector warn over any new runway delays

Failure to increase London's airport capacity by 2030 will cost the UK £5.3 billion a year in trade with Brazil, Russia, India and China alone, according to research by the Confederation of British Industry.

Heathrow runway
As it is, the CBI calculates that, even if the proposed third runway gets government approval this year, Britain will lose £31 billion in trade with the 'Bric' countries over the 15 years before construction is complete.The "stark" warning from the CBI was delivered at a major conference on airports in London.Last week, the Airports Commission came down in favour of a third runway at Heathrow, rather than a second one at Gatwick, as the best way of meeting the pressing need for extra airport capacity in London.The CBI and other trade and business organisations have called for construction to start as soon as possible – and no later than 2020 – but Prime Minister David Cameron is facing the prospect of an internal rebellion by prominent Conservative MPs, including several cabinet ministers.Katja Hall, deputy director-general of the CBI, told the conference, "Delaying the decision to build a new runway will have a very real economic cost for our country."The commission has been clear in its recommendation to the government, and so are we – get on with building it without delay."A new runway will help rebalance our economy, prevent us handing opportunity to our rivals and avoid a future bill for our inaction."When it comes to airport capacity, time is money. We're not just missing out on global opportunities, but paying an economic price right here in the UK."Our failure to increase flights to Bric countries alone will cost the UK as much as £31 billion in lost trade in the period it takes to build a new runway."That's just from a lack of flights to the Bric countries – just the tip of the iceberg."We welcome the Prime Minister's guarantee that he will deliver a decision this side of Christmas. He is right too – delaying into 2016 is too late."We need to get the legal process under way before the end of the year, and Parliament needs to get behind it. If it does that, we could see spades in the ground by 2020, with a new runway online between 2025 and 2030, and the whole country reaping the benefits by 2040."However, the UK's tech sector is worried that, even if the third runway could be built by 2025, it could come too late, according to Russ Shaw, founder and chair of Tech London Advocates.While welcoming the Heathrow decision as "a step in the right direction for the capital's business community", he added, "Unfortunately, it will be at least a decade before London and its businesses can enjoy the benefits of the Heathrow's additional runway capacity."Furthermore, this lag may put our fast-growing digital sector at risk by jeopardising our pipeline of highly skilled talent. Just over three quarters of digital companies say they benefit from access to a network of entrepreneurs to interact with and to share ideas."But by 2020 experts predict there will be a shortage of 300,000 digital experts. The UK simply does not have the talent readily available, so we need to be doing everything in our power to make travel as easy as possible. A critical part of this will be to crack on with runway construction."For more Re:locate news and features about UK enterprise and infrastructure, click here

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