Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 15:05 UK

Heathrow expansion 'worth 30bn'

Aeroplane taking off behind protest sign
Heathrow is losing out to continental competitors, the report found

For every year the third runway at Heathrow is delayed the UK economy loses between £900m and £1.1bn, according to business leaders.

The extra runway could be worth up to £30bn to the entire country over 60 years, said a report commissioned by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

A third runway would save business passengers time and increase their productivity, the report found.

But the Tories said the report did not address the environmental damage.

Ministers approved plans for the third runway in January.

It triggered a chorus of opposition from environmentalists but has been welcomed by airlines, businesses, BAA and some unions.

Global opportunities

Critics argue a third runway would worsen current noise and air pollution levels and create intolerable congestion on local roads and public transport.

Several councils opposed to Heathrow expansion are currently seeking a judicial review into the government's decision.

BCC director general David Frost said: "Connectivity is vital to the UK economy as businesses seek to develop new global opportunities that will allow them to generate wealth and jobs.

"Without additional capacity at our major hub airport, we will continue to fall behind our continental competitors."

The report said Heathrow's shortage of capacity meant it was falling behind European competitors such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports and that over the last 20 years Heathrow had fallen from being the leading airport in Europe by destinations served, to fifth place.

Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said the report "fails to address the huge cost impact of the environmental damage that would be caused by a third runway".

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said continued airport expansion was "an environmental disaster", but the Society of British Aerospace Companies said the report was "a welcome reminder of how vital aviation is to the UK economy".



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