Let Britain Fly Campaign - Exeter 2016

22 Jun 2016

DCBC and Exeter Chamber hosted a roundtable summit, at Foot Anstey in Exeter, on Friday 17th June, with local business leaders and ‘Let Britain Fly’ representatives, exploring the benefits of a new runway in London and the importance of domestic regional air connectivity.

The government confirmed its intention to build a new runway in London and the South East in December 2015, however, the final decision on the location has been delayed for another six months as further environmental analysis of the runway is carried out.

The benefits that airport expansion could bring should not  focus solely on the expansion of the UK’s international connectivity to new markets, but also on the enhancement of the UK’s domestic connectivity, which could provide additional links to the South West, North, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Gavin Hayes, Director, Let Britain Fly said: “Airport expansion is not just about London and the South East, it's an issue that affects the economic well being of the entire UK, including places like Devon and the wider South West Region”.

The purpose of the roundtable was to listen to what business in the South West had to say on this important issue and explore opportunities for collaboration in order  to make sure we secure a final decision from Government by the summer and without further delay.

Key points from Friday’s roundtable summit:

- People at the table believed that ‘one voice’ from all relevant parties is needed in the region, a role that DCBC continues to play on these important issues.

- Brexit - the investment in national infrastructure and major regional airport investment decisions will be hit as a consequence of a vote to leave the EU.

- Ensuring that extra runway capacity will actually lead to a rise in domestic connectivity – we need to negotiate now on how much domestic regional connectivity is guaranteed; how many air traffic movements we will be allotted and at what rate. Additional regional landing slots being provided at a cost prohibitive level are no good. If the Government are serious about supporting regional economic development, they should seek to develop and implement policies that support it.

- What does an extra runway mean to us in South West? – particularly relevant for  Mayflower 2020 celebrations, during which it is expected that we will be welcoming large numbers of American tourists

- Although regional air connectivity into an expanded London hub airport are vital, we should not lose sight of the importance of rail and road links. Continued delays in securing investment for the Western Access to Heathrow and a slow and fragmented approach to the A358/A303/A30 upgrades will continue to hinder the regional economy

- Even if decisions are made before the summer, we see nothing happening at least 10-15 years, which risks the UK falling further behind European and Global competitors, who are investing now in increased airport capacity.

- In the short to medium term, as a region, our only option is to explore European hub airports, such as Paris and Amsterdam, which achieves little for UK PLc and is far from risk free, given the current relationship with other EU countries.

- Heathrow could see 50% increase in flight movements, with up to 750,000 air traffic movements resulting from a 3rd runway

- LBF is committed to working with regions to ensure they do all they can to help UK regions get the connectivity we need

- DCBC will be drafting an open letter to prime minister and will be seeking the support of the wider business community across Devon and Cornwall, including significant business representative organisations.


Ben Rhodes, Chief Executive, Devon and Cornwall Business Council said: “DCBC needs to play a pivotal role in lobbying the  government on domestic regional connectivity and we are keen to work with partner organisations to ensure that a single, coherent message is heard loud and clear”.

“An open letter is being submitted to the Prime Minister with regards to the delay in expansion, urging decisive leadership and action to be taken by the Government, as soon as possible after the EU Referendum, in order to protect and enhance the UK’s competitiveness.”

The next Let Britain Fly event is being held on Thursday 30th June, at Altitude, Millbank Tower, 8am for 8:30-9:30am surrounding the one year anniversary of the Airport Commission's recommendations.  The discussion will influence Let Britain Fly’s campaign message and approach actions going forwards.



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