Business Leaders Call On Public To 'Speak Out' On New Runways

Business Leaders Call On Public To 'Speak Out' On New Runways

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Business Leaders Call On Public To ‘Speak Out’ On New Runways

Leaders of some of Britain’s biggest firms have made an appeal to the public, calling on them to sign a pledge demanding politicians back new runways in London and the South East.

A recent survey by the Office of National Statistics showed a majority (59%) of the British public support the construction of new runways, and the Let Britain Fly Pledge, which was launched today, aims to give this “silent majority” a voice in the national debate.

The business leaders, including the heads of Harrods, international manufacturer Kesslers, construction giant Mace, property firm SEGRO, and global law firm Linklaters, urged the British public to speak out on the issue, which they say is crucial to supporting future jobs and growth in the UK.

The Let Britain Fly Pledge aims to put pressure on the leaders of the UK’s political parties, calling on them to:

  1. Make a public pledge to build more runway capacity and commit to this in their 2015 election manifestos
  2. Ensure a Parliamentary vote on airports expansion in 2016 at the latest.

Using email and social media in the run-up to the election, the campaign aims to engage hundreds of thousands of people across the country ahead of the release of the Airports Commission’s final recommendations next summer.

In the coming months the campaign will also criss-cross the country, staging a roadshow of events in, Newcastle, Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool and will have a high-profile presence at the forthcoming party political conferences in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

Gavin Hayes, Director, Let Britain Fly, said:

“It’s not just a short-list of options we need, but the political will to do something – without cross party commitment none of these proposals will get past the drawing board, that’s why we are urging the public to speak out on the need for vital new runways.

“Often in the public debate on airports expansion we hear loudly the concerns of those people who are against; Let Britain Fly now wants to create the space and opportunity for the ‘silent majority’ of people who are in favour of expansion to also have their say.

“The evidence suggests that a majority supports airports expansion, and understands the need to support jobs and growth across the country. Today we are giving them a chance to speak out on this important issue by signing the Let Britain Fly Pledge and demonstrating to politicians that voters think this issue is of national importance.”

Michael Ward, Managing Director of Harrods, said:

“Harrods attracts visitors from around the world. But changes in the global economy mean we need to reach out to new markets which complement our existing links. That’s why we have been vocal in the debate over airport expansion.

“But this is not a decision for British business. The Government should be listening to the public, and the evidence suggests that a silent majority support airport expansion. We urge those people to ensure their voice is heard on this vital issue and sign the Let Britain Fly Pledge.”

George Kessler, Director of Kesslers International, said:

“My competitors in Germany, France and Holland have a huge advantage in being able to get to China (where face to face contact is an essential part of doing business) at short notice and more easily than I. In addition they suffer from fewer delays. The issues with second rate air connectivity are stymying the growth potential of our economy. The need for new runways is urgent and our politicians need to show clear leadership on this issue and not hide behind the genuine difficulties of making a decision.

“The British public need to take their opportunity to have their say on this issue which will seriously affect the availability of employment and jobs for both them and their children.”

Mark Reynolds, Chief Executive, Mace, said:

“If the UK and particularly London is to meet our growth challenges and remain a leading world city, our airports must have the capacity to meet these demands. The construction industry has the capacity to deliver infrastructure projects much quicker. Together with government assistance, and the airport owners and operators, we can meet the demands ahead of the current envisaged schedule and stimulate the economy by increasing employment and investment in to the UK.”

David Sleath, Chief Executive Officer, SEGRO, said:

“Global connectivity is vital to the success of the British economy. Many of our customers operate internationally, moving people and products around the world by air. That is why we urgently need politicians to deliver new runways to allow businesses to directly access new and emerging overseas markets.

“With better international connectivity, the UK will attract further investment that will safeguard and create new jobs. Additional runway capacity really matters, because fundamentally it’s about UK jobs and economic prosperity.

“In the run-up to the election more people should join with us in speaking out and ensuring their voice is heard.”

Robert Elliott, Chairman and Senior Partner, Linklaters, said:

“Britain has been a powerhouse of global trade for centuries, not least due to the UK’s connectivity with international business and financial centres. Global firms such as Linklaters which serve clients throughout the world benefit from good airport connections, and these play a key role in helping to maintain London’s status as arguably the world’s leading legal centre.

“As other countries continue to build major airport hubs, competition for London is intensifying, underscoring the pressing need for a comprehensive and actionable UK aviation strategy to assure the UK’s future competitiveness within the global economy. With airport capacity saturation just around the corner now is the time to seek the widest possible input and make decisions built on the widest possible consensus.”

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