Summary of panel debate:
Chair EG's Damian Wild
Gareth Osborn, director Thames Valley, SEGRO
Allan Gregory, director of surface access, BAA
Ruth Bagley, chief executive, Slough Borough council
Scott Witchalls, partner, Peter Brett Associates
Paul Newman, project sponsor - Reading Station, Network Rail
DW to Tony Travers: If you'd been asked to conduct at airport review what would be your conclusion?
TT common sense would dictate that as Heathrow is already a success but building on that success would be sensible. But people living in the area want something but don't want more of it and that is the problem. Property values under the flight path are quite expensive so that obviously isn't a problem. There is a risk that the campaigning against the expansion will shift the airport to the east. If Heathrow can't be expanded then should be a hub in the east
DW Is WRATH (Western Rail Access to Heathrow) going to solve all the problems?
SW Isn't going to solve all but we have to build ourselves out of these problems. It has significant benefits but we need other infrastructure. Got to plan for rapid housing growth. Having been through the mill to get funding for schemes like Reading Station off the ground but a lot of it depends on who you are asking. Down side is that business doesn't have a vote. It was a vote winner to say we won't expand Heathrow.
Q Why would a minister support a case for WRATH if going to build a new airport?
AG - It is an ever more a global competition. International businesses will go where they have the best connectivity. To get international connectivity need to be connected domestically also. Regional airports play a part. Air, road and rail have been viewed as competitive in the past but they need to work together to face global competitiveness.
Access to Heathrow is crucial and onwards destinations are important to business customers.
North south divide is an issue - most of Heathrow's users are from the south, in the north fly short-haul to Europe then onwards from there.
AG Need to be really clear about what priorities are and focus on that. Can't have a too big a shopping list.
Q Where is the political argument that says Heathrow expansion shouldn't go ahead
RB why wouldn't we? If you could get your money back on your investment in 10-15 years time still worth it even with a new hub airport in 30 years time. I will get the money somehow.
Q What is the case for saying we shouldn't be investing elsewhere to benefit the wider UK?
TT One of arguments against spending £500m on WRATH is that there are lots of projects around the country which all sit on a desk in the department of transport and the decision is what would produce the highest economic benefit. Money has to be spread thinly.
In a different world you would see places like Reading and Cambridge that would expand rapidly to become equivalent to Manchester in post industrial world but we don't do that.
Manchester would argue that shouldn't invest in rich areas but should invest in areas that have been left behind to give them a chance to catch up. The strong argument for investing in Thames Valley is that it would give higher economic output for UK than investing elsewhere.
RB Wider South East economy account for 45% of UK yes we need to invest in growth but also need to maintain what we've got.
Q Isn't a new hub complimentary having 24 access to an airport is a no brainer. Heathrow is the wrong location and has always been in the wrong location.
TT I think it would be decadent to think of giving up a successful hub airport. There is a 10-15% chance politicians will move hub to Thames Gateway because of residents opposition.
Britain will end up with a big hub airport and if it isn't West London will be elsewhere.
TVPF conference: Ruth Bagley on importance of WRATH
TVPF conference: Tony Travers on threats to Thames Valley
EG's Thames Valley Focus was published on September 1, EGi subscribers can view the articles online.