Like so many in Horsham, I am delighted by the Heathrow announcement. The Government preference for Heathrow expansion is firmly in our national interest and will provide a major economic boost.
Heathrow’s financial case was overwhelming. The support from all corners of the UK, airlines, international business and trade unions made Heathrow the outstanding choice. Above all Heathrow was endorsed in clear terms by the independent Davies Commission. The Government is determined to ensure that the UK is open for business and this expansion is part of the drive to build a global, outward looking Britain. As a result of expansion, UK regions will be better able to access international markets and new slots for domestic routes are guaranteed.
Economics is important but so is the local environment - additional Government studies have confirmed that the project can be delivered within carbon and air quality limits. Suggestions as to how residents around Heathrow can be protected from noise and pollution I will study closely to ensure those living near Gatwick secure the same protections.
I am pleased to welcome Heathrow expansion as a positive national decision. However the decision also prevents an infrastructure nightmare around Gatwick were it to double in size. Gatwick is a huge asset to our area on its current configuration but its road and rail infrastructure could not cope with the anticipated growth. Expansion at Gatwick would have required tens of thousands of extra journeys every day from employees (let alone passengers) commuting to Gatwick from some distance as well as a huge additional housing requirement when so many people locally already find it hard to find a place to live.
Expansion at Heathrow will benefit the whole UK economy and with the big infrastructure decision taken we need to focus on our local connectivity. This includes the ongoing planned investment in local rail lines and a vision for our railways long term. It may also require, as the Commons discussed last week, increased connectivity from the south into Heathrow, alongside the planned upgrade of the M25. This is a good decision for us locally and a good decision for the country as a whole.