Heathrow third runway is crucial for the Liverpool city region economy, says Steve Rotheram

Metro Mayor backs £16bn airport expansion plan at event organised by Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce to make local firms aware of the opportunities from the project. Tony McDonough reports

A third runway at Heathrow could offer a huge economic boost to the Liverpool city region

A third runway for Heathrow is crucial to the future economic growth of the Liverpool city region, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said on Thursday.

Mr Rotherham was addressing entrepreneurs at a meet-the-buyer event organised by Liverpool & Sefton Chamber of Commerce and Heathrow.

Those attending were told a third runway could see the creation of 15,300 jobs in the North West and boost the region’s economy by £12.5bn.

That would be both from the construction phases and the long-term benefits of better global connectivity for the UK regions.

New routes

A third runway would open up the possibility of valuable landing slots being offered for services to regional airports such as Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA).

Heathrow has pledged a £10m route development fund for regional airports if the runway goes ahead.

Mr Rotherham said: “We need to connect our global gateway at Heathrow to the regional airport network.

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram

“LJLA has been an important engine for the economic growth of the city region – it is worth around half a billion pounds every year in terms of GVA and supports 12,000 jobs.

“It has been integral for the expansion of the visitor economy.

Stifling growth

“Congestion and limited capacity at Heathrow is not only stifling the economic growth of London and the South East, it is impacting on every region and city region.

“Capacity constraints and limited slot availability have made it increasingly difficult for regional airports to secure services to Heathrow and achieve global connectivity.

“The Liverpool city region needs and deserves access to global connectivity to better meet our individual needs.

“I am supporting this initiative on the basis that Liverpool gets a direct link into what will be the UK’s first hub airport.”

Political turmoil

The Government has said it is in favour of a third runway at Heathrow, which would cost £16bn.

However, final approval would still need to be give by Parliament and the volatility created by the General Election result creates more uncertainty around the issue.

The Conservative manifesto backed the expansion of Heathrow while Labour has offered qualified support and is seeking further assurances on noise and air pollution.

Mr Rotherham criticised the long drawn-out debate and process in deciding how to address airport capacity in the UK.

“It has been an object lesson in how not to plan a major infrastructure project.”

Heathrow’s third runway plan has significant support from the Liverpool city region with both Liverpool & Sefton Chamber and LJLA long-term supporters of the project.

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