Creating 180,000 new jobs

The new runway project at Heathrow airport is set to be the world’s biggest privately funded infrastructure project. The trouble is, there have been plans to create the runway going back decades, which have never come to fruition. The airport is the UK’s only hub airport and, like so many airports in London and the south east, it is now running close to capacity.

In 2017 I was asked to lead the campaign to build the new runway, as Executive Director of Back Heathrow. It’s a crucial piece of infrastructure that will create 77,000 local jobs and 5,000 apprenticeships in west London.

But it’s also a key piece of national infrastructure which could boost the UK economy by £211 billion, 180,000 new jobs across the country and a total of 10,000 apprenticeships.

Building Stakeholder Support

I have been working with the CBI, the TUC, small businesses and MPs across the political divides to help build a consensus for the airport’s growth. Importantly, over 100,000 local residents are now backing the project and polling is showing that more local people now support expansion than oppose it.

Nonetheless, it’s a delicate and at times sensitive piece of work, to build strong stakeholder relationships across business, unions, commercial and local community interests, and invariably under the glare of media scrutiny.

Whilst it’s been important for local communities and our country to understand the economic benefits of this hugely significant project, its crucial that the scheme delivers on air quality, reducing the number of people affected by aircraft noise and meeting the Paris carbon reduction target. We need to fulfil all of these objectives.

Winning cross-party backing

On June 25th, 2018, after decades of delay, the government agreed to have a decisive vote on Heathrow expansion in Parliament.

415 MPs voted in favour, 119 voted against. So, it was a victory with a majority of 296 votes. A majority of Conservative and Labour MPs voted in favour of the project – effectively giving the scheme outline planning permission.

But there’s still a lot to be done. The next stage is the all-important detailed planning process. Heathrow’s new runway is scheduled for completion by 2030.