Heathrow decision delays could hit town businesses
October 11, 2012
Delays over discussions on the expansion of Heathrow airport could jeopardise the future of businesses in Wokingham, the borough council has warned.
Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) announced on Monday that the majority of its stakeholders, including Wokingham Borough Council, fully endorse any decision that re-opens the opportunity for Heathrow to increase its capacity.
The borough council feels inaction will frustrate economic growth in the region, which is currently one of the three top performing economies in the UK.
Councillor Rob Stanton, the council representative in the partnership, said: “Action has been pushed back until after the next election. It seems uncertain and that’s what concerns us.
“The danger is about inward investment – when companies from other parts of the world choose where they want to go. If there’s no certainty about airport capacity in the South East they may choose to go elsewhere.”
Last month secret plans were revealed that a British business consortium were assessing land on the edge of the borough between Reading, Maidenhead and Bracknell for a possible £60bn four-runway airport.
Cllr Stanton firmly dismisses these plans.
“I think it’s bonkers,” he said. “It’s not the right place – it’s too built up.
“It would achieve nothing they can’t do at Heathrow. A new airport could go in the Thames Estuary or in middle England.”
In its announcement on Monday, the LEP stated 75 per cent of businesses in the region cite proximity to Heathrow as a primary reason for their location.
The partnership urged for new opportunities to be created for growth and warned market share could be lost to Germany where expansion is on track in Frankfurt, where already more destinations are served than Heathrow.
Cllr Stanton added: “We need to be clear that the council is not, at this stage, calling outright for such an expansion; what we are asking is that expansion be reconsidered in the light of the importance of Heathrow to the Thames Valley’s economy – and the importance of the Thames Valley’s economy to the country in general.”
Council leader Cllr David Lee said: “There are many compelling reasons for businesses to locate in Wokingham borough: from our great schools to our good transport connections to London and our highly educated population.
“But we are never complacent and it is right we should raise our voice if issues beyond our boundaries are likely to affect us.
“We will ensure our concerns are heard.”