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Airports decision: Call for immediate response from ministers

Engineers have pleaded for the government to press on with the £22.6bn expansion of Heathrow recommended by the Airports Commission this morning.

Both the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (Ceca) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) urged a rapid response from ministers, as did two leading consultancies.

The Sir Howard Davies led commission today recommended building a new north west runway at Heathrow to deal with a chronic shortage of landing and take-off slots in the South East. The expansion itself would cost £17.6bn, the report said, with £5bn of surface access works also required.

Transport minister Patrick McLoughlin said he would announce later the steps to be taken before a formal decision was made on airport expansion. Fears have grown in recent weeks that there could be a hiatus while the government considers the report.

Ceca chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Aviation is extremely important to UK economic growth. Without it global business opportunities would be reduced. The UK economy loses nearly £1.2bn a year because of a lack of major airport capacity.

“The Davies Commission has reported after three years of work. It is now vital that the government takes immediate action on aviation policy and implements the final recommendations from today’s report. Unless the congestion problem is addressed now, the UK will become a less attractive place to do business with and to visit.”

ICE director general Nick Baveystock said: “Government commissioned a vast, comprehensive review in order to establish the best expansion option for the UK, and it now has a clear, firm recommendation.

“The key issue is now implementation. A courageous and strategic decision is needed - and needed swiftly – if we are to avoid yet more delay and uncertainty around the future of the UK’s hub capacity.” 

Atkins UK and Europe chief executive Nick Roberts said: “We look forward to a speedy decision by the government on the location of the new runway. This will enable the infrastructure to be planned and delivered quickly, and demonstrate to passengers around the world the UK’s steadfast commitment to solving its airport capacity problem.”

Aecom Europe, Middle East, Africa and India civil infrastructure chief executive Richard Robinson added: “A protracted decision-making process could put the brakes on the UK’s economic growth at the worst possible time. It has taken three years to arrive at today’s recommendation – the UK simply cannot afford further delays.

“As a country we are already falling behind global rivals with greater aviation capacity. The UK has made good progress in high-speed rail, with HS2 and Crossrail being pioneering examples of how infrastructure can bolster the UK economy. The challenge now is to improve connections to the rest of the world so the UK’s ability to compete on the global stage is not further hampered by years of deferred and delayed decisions.”

NCE editor Mark Hansford will be interviewing Richard Robinson at NCE’s Airport Development, Design and Engineering conference tomorrow, where the agenda is packed full of experts offering reaction to Davies’ recommendation


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