May 17 2017
| Region: London, South East
Two further runways will be needed in the South East to complement Heathrow’s expansion according to the Institute of Directors which is calling for a new Airports Commission to launch immediately after the General Election.
The group welcomed the Government’s decision to support a third runway at Heathrow. But years of “dawdling” on new airport capacity has left the UK lagging behind European competitors, says the Institute’s senior infrastructure advisor Dan Lewis.
“Expanding Heathrow is not enough, we need two further runways at South East airports and better connections to the ones where there is spare capacity, particularly Stansted,” he commented.
The Institute urges the next Government to launch a second Airports Commission that would recommend locations for these additional runways. “With Heathrow’s third runway not scheduled to be completed until 2028, and with Gatwick also filling up fast, the Commission should only be given a year to report its findings,” it adds.
A spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: “We stand ready to expand should the Government choose to give us the green light.”
In the meantime the Institute of Directors urges improved transport links to Stansted, which still has spare capacity. The airport’s Achilles’ heel – its distance from London – “could easily be rectified by a fast train that brings the journey time to under 30 minutes from 55”, it says.
Stansted Airport’s head of external affairs Chris Wiggan said: “To realise the full potential of the airport and the corridor, we need Government to be serious about investing in our transport infrastructure and that means delivering a faster, more reliable and frequent rail service for our passengers and commuters to help business connect to the global marketplace.”
Other measures the Institute would like to see from the next Government include a plan for progressing with Crossrail 2 and the establishment of an infrastructure ‘Best Value Index’ to score pipeline projects against each other.
It also calls for a national database of UK roads to be built, covering traffic, accidents, costs and air pollution. “Roads are the hardest working muscles in the UK’s transport infrastructure but we know too little about them,” the Institute says. “The more information we have about them, the more efficient our investment can be.”
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