Regions to take lead in runway debate

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Aerial picture of Heathrow Airport

A coalition of UK business leaders, academics, trade associations and other senior non-government organisation personnel, calling itself the National Connectivity Task Force, is to submit proposals to the UK government’s Airports Commission about how to connect the UK regions with Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport. 

The commissions’s consultation deadline is 3 February. The task force wants ideas subsmitted one or before 19 December. The Airports Commission was created by the UK government in 2012 to examine the need for runway capacity in the UK.

It published its consultation documents on 11 November and they gave options related to increased runway capacity at Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport. After May 2015 the commission will publish its final report on how to expand runway capacity.

The task force, with former British Airways chief executive officer, Sir Rod Eddington, onboard, will examine the requirements for improved connectivity between the UK’s regions and the two London airports identified in the commission’s public consultation documents.

The task force’s chairman is the member of the House of Lords for the Liberal Democrat party, Lord John Shipley (see picture). He says his task force is issueing, “an invitation to all those with an interest in seeing the UK’s regions, home nations and Crown Dependencies better connected to London, the rest of the UK, European and wider global markets. We are inviting ideas on how proposed air service improvements could be brought about. Any submissions made to us on or before 19 December will be welcomed.” 

The task force was suggested in May 2014 by the owner of Heathrow Airport, which is sponsoring the force’s staff and work. Despite this involvement, the task force states it is independent. Its members include individuals from University College London, Federation of Small Business, the Cornwall Development Company, UK Airport Operators Association and Liverpool Chamber of Commerce.

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