CBI president to urge runway expansion to be top priority

Heathrow Airport artist impression of third runway

Chief of the UK’s largest business group will tomorrow call on the Government to deliver “strong, calm and decisive leadership” on infrastructure decisions such as aviation capacity expansion in the South East, in light of Brexit.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) President, Paul Drechsler will be speaking at The Infrastructure Forum’s Policy Summit and explain if infrastructure decisions were important two weeks ago, now after the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, they are “even more important”.

He will also say: “Building a new runway in the South East is a key decision for the long-term future of our economy and country.

“Let’s be clear – in the aftermath of Brexit, the world won’t wait for us. Other countries don’t care about our excuses. The competition is hungry and more than willing to take advantage of our weakness.

“While we’re staring at the departures board, airports in France, Germany and the Netherlands are all building routes with emerging markets.”

He will explain that if the UK doesn’t act now, it could lose out on over £30 billion ($39 billion) in trade by 2030 with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies alone.

Drechsler will add: “Meanwhile, our loss would be our European rivals’ gain. Of the £30 billion of trade with BRICs we’d miss out on by 2030, £15 billion would go to Germany, and £7.5 billion would go to France.

“It’s more important than ever to reassure Britain’s workers, makers, exporters and investors that the UK is open for business.

“My message for the next Prime Minister is this. A decision on a new runway must be your top domestic priority. Bar none.

“The Commission recommended Heathrow – make this your starting point. We cannot go back to the drawing board – again. We cannot afford to be put on hold – again. Take action, make a plan, and let’s get on with it.”

The UK government was set to make a decision on whether to add a third runway at Heathrow in the summer, but this looks set to be put back until the autumn. Gatwick Airport is also looking to expand and is seeking permission to build second runway.