Birmingham has rather opportunely engaged in the debate that has been raging this week about the UK's air capacity. The unusual bedfellows of Conservative and Labour MPs, along with business and council leaders from the West Midlands, have today united to call for spare capacity at Birmingham Airport to be used to ease congestion in the south-east.
This group of passionate drum bangers are promoting Birmingham Airport as a means of easing congestion at London's Heathrow and in the south east. They believe that in the long-term, the development of Birmingham Airport as a major gateway at the centre of the UK would reduce unproductive surface travel time and leave Heathrow as a gateway for London and the south-east.
The letter published in today's Daily Telegraph (August 30, 2012) says: "A 'hub airport' in the South East favours a small, congested, and already economically strong part of the country. We need gateways close to the manufacturing, research and development of the Midlands and the North, linking these regions directly to emerging markets.
"Overseas investors are discouraged from investing where there are no global links. For Britain, over-reliance on one large, full airport, risks national resilience and leads the rest of the world to believe there is just one gateway to this country."
Birmingham has historically struggled in attracting overseas occupiers and desperately wants to build on its links internationally via its proposed second runway. Birmingham Airport's current spare runway capacity is 27 million passengers per annum. This could rise to over 50 million and create 50,000 jobs giving an invaluable and much needed boost to the local economy.
The airport and NEC station will also be at the hub of the proposed £32bn HS2 network. Factor in the acres of potential development that could take place around the airport and a potential growth spurt in inward investment and one can see why this could be such an attractive proposition for the Midlands.
The letter goes on to say: "As local politicians and business leaders, we call on government to encourage and assist airports to work with local enterprise partnerships and stakeholders. The government must support expansion of Birmingham's airport to maximise the regional growth."
The letter is signed by Mark Garnier MP (Con) and Ian Austin MP (Lab) plus Jerry Blackett chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group and 72 other MPs, MEPs, councillors and businesses.
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Picture courtesy of Mike Miley via Flickr.com