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Burnham concerned by Heathrow expansion plans

Heathrow Airport

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has asked Prime Minister Theresa May for a guarantee that the Heathrow expansion will not reduce or delay transport investment in the north of England.

Burnham remains concerned that the expansion of Heathrow could leave the North waiting even longer for the investment to build modern rail infrastructure linking its big cities to Manchester Airport.

The government’s bill for public transport improvements to support the Heathrow expansion could be up to £16 billion, he warned. This would take transport spending in the capital to around £50 billion in the coming years.

Speaking at the Northern Transport Summit 2018 in Manchester, Burnham alluded to recent chaos on Northern rail, providing clear proof that improving connections west-to-east across the north of England should be the country’s most urgent transport investment priority.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling’s failure to attend the summit has fuelled fears that the North is not the government’s transport priority, according to a statement from Burnham’s office.

With the government committed to major investment in London to build HS2, and signs of support to the £30 billion Crossrail 2 project, Burnham raised fears that the vast majority of the transport capital budget is effectively committed to the capital city, leaving little for the rest of the country.

Burnham said: “If the expansion of Heathrow is to go ahead, it should be on the basis of a clear guarantee from the government that it won’t delay or reduce much-needed transport investment in the North.”

He added: “If they can’t give that guarantee in a convincing way, then there is a strong case for Parliament asking the government to think again and postpone the expansion of Heathrow.”

It emerged today that the Department for Transport’s (DfT) analysis of future spending suggests that, between 2018 and 2021, it will be investing £831 per head on road and rail upgrades in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber – more than £30 more per head than London and the South at £799.

The figures were published as aviation minister Baroness Sugg visited Liverpool Airport ahead of attending the northern transport summit.

Sugg said: “A new Heathrow runway will bring further benefits to the North, better connecting the region’s airports with the UK’s hub airport and opening up new trade opportunities which could deliver a further boost to the Northern economy.”

The full release can be viewed here on the DfT website.

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