Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Region 'Must Be Heard' on Airport; Heathrow Scheme Is 'Key to Growth'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Region 'Must Be Heard' on Airport; Heathrow Scheme Is 'Key to Growth'

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson

AIRPORT bosses seeking Heathrow expansion have said it is wrong that the UK's aviation policy should be dominated by the views of "some 100,000 people" in West London.

Economists, business leaders and a senior Heathrow director met with North East firms yesterday to stress the need to challenge the Government on its reluctance to build a third runway at the airport.

Clare Harbord, corporate affairs director at Heathrow owner BAA, was backed by senior American economist Dr Irwin Stelzer as she set out why the North East would benefit from expansion in London.

Oxford Economics research presented at the North East Chamber of Commerce talk found that pounds 3.6bn of the region's exports are dependent on air travel and 96% of them via a hub. It is thought Heathrow directly supports 2,000 tourism jobs and 700 airport jobs in the North East, and capital expenditure at Heathrow brought in pounds 39m for suppliers in 2010.

Dr Stelzer, better known as an adviser to Rupert Murdoch, said: "This region needs to be heard. Unless it does so some 100,000 people in the South of England will decide aviation policy with no thought towards economic growth. The region has a huge stake in seeing expansion at Heathrow."

The economist criticised the Government for its plan to launch a consultation on growing the UK's aviation sector while at the same time ruling out any new runway at Heathrow.

He said: "The process itself is flawed. You have a beautiful theatre here [in Newcastle]. What the Government is doing is a bit like you staging a production of Hamlet but saying we will not be allowed to mention the Prince of Denmark."

Speaking to The Journal after the event, Dr Stelzer said the North East had, in comparison to West London, a "serious political problem". …

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