Ian Austin says government should back the West Midlands and look outside of London for airport expansion.
Dudley North MP Ian Austin will tonight vote against the government’s plans to expand Heathrow as he says that Ministers continually overlook the West Midlands in favour of the Capital.
This comes after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling admitted Birmingham could lose out as a result of Heathrow’s expansion
Austin asked government ministers to show some imagination and back Birmingham Airport instead of expanding Heathrow. He told Mr Grayling that backing Birmingham Airport could boost the West Midlands economy and bring new jobs and growth to the region.
He said the airport’s location in the middle of the country and on the motorway and mainline rail network made Birmingham the most accessible airport in the country - and said that if the government had backed his calls to use HS2 to directly link Birmingham to Heathrow, it would have been almost as quick to get between the two airports than it is to travel from central London to Heathrow at the moment.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, admitted in Parliament that Birmingham Airport could lose out as a result of the Heathrow expansion. He said Birmingham would face “greater competitive pressure” as a result of the decision to expand Heathrow. He said the project would benefit the rest of the country, because it will mean more domestic flights linking Heathrow with regional airports, but the West Midlands won't benefit in this way because it is too close to Heathrow to make flights between the two airports viable.
Mr Grayling said Heathrow's expansion could actually make it harder for Birmingham Airport, saying: “There is no doubt that the location of Birmingham Airport will, if we expand Heathrow Airport, mean that it faces a greater competitive pressure than many of our other airports."
Ian Austin said:
“I am going to take this opportunity and send a message to the government to stop over-looking the West Midlands.
“The government talks about boosting growth in the regions but it is the same old story with the bulk of the investment, benefits and jobs going to London and the South East.
“Ministers should have used HS2 to link the airport to Heathrow as I suggested, it would have been just about as quick to get between the two airports as it would be to travel from central London to Heathrow at the moment.
“Imagine the boost that would give the West Midlands - it would have meant we’d get our fair share of the economic growth and thousands of extra well-paid jobs airport investment could bring. Instead, as usual, the bulk of the spending and the jobs will go to London and the South East, with the Transport Secretary even admitting the West Midlands could lose out if the decision goes through.”