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Scottish Government backs Heathrow expansion

Words: Laura Edgar
Heathrow Airport / iStock_000050552194

The Scottish Government says it supports plans to build a third runway at London Heathrow Airport, after securing what it describes as ‘key commitments for Scotland’ in an agreement with the airport's operator.

The government, which sounded out expansion plans from both Heathrow and Gatwick Airport, said Heathrow’s plans offer the “greatest strategic and economic” benefits to Scotland, creating “thousands of jobs” and providing a significant boost to the country’s connectivity.

Heathrow’s commitments include:

  • The creation of up to 16,000 jobs across Scotland from the new capacity;

  • Heathrow will work with the Scottish Government to investigate Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of a third runway;

  • £200 million of construction-related spending in Scotland during planning construction; and

  • A £10 million route development fund to help support new domestic routes.

Heathrow Airport will make these commitments in a memorandum of understanding to be signed with the Scottish Government today (10 October).

Keith Brown, Cabinet secretary for economy, jobs and fair work, said: “We have been clear from the start of this process that we wanted the best deal for Scotland and building a third runway at Heathrow provides the most significant benefits to the country’s economy and connectivity.

“We have engaged extensively with both airports during this process and considered all options very carefully. Gatwick’s proposals are also to be commended.

“However, Heathrow’s plan offers significant job creation, major investment opportunities and, crucially, seeks to address how all of Scotland’s airports benefit from the new runway capacity when it comes, and also in the lead-up period.”

Brown said the potential for a logistics hub to be based at Glasgow Prestwick Airport would support the pre-fabrication of components for the construction phase, with potential for future work beyond the launch of the third runway, “bringing strong economic benefits to the airport and the wider Ayrshire community".

“Growing the number of direct international air routes to and from Scotland remains a priority for this [Scottish] government, but the proposals from Heathrow offer all our airports a range of benefits that will help them grow passenger numbers and continue to build on their successes,” said Brown.

“It’s now time for the UK Government to end its costly prevarication on airport expansion and support Heathrow’s plans to ensure Scotland, and the United Kingdom as a whole, can begin to reap the rewards on offer.”

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive, Heathrow Airport, said: “An expanded Heathrow would create up to 16,000 jobs in Scotland. It would facilitate more airlines flying routes to Scottish airports, meaning more flights, more competition and choice for families and businesses across the nation. That also means more visitors to Scotland, more destinations for Scottish tourists and more opportunity for Scottish businesses to reach new export markets.

“This partnership demonstrates how Heathrow expansion can work for every region and nation of the UK.”

In 2015, the Airports Commission recommended expanding runway capacity at Heathrow is the best option to meet the “unambiguous signs of strain London's airports are showing”.

Image credit | iStock