Scottish government wants Heathrow's third runway given the green light

Rebecca Smith
Could Heathrow's third runway take off? The Scottish government thinks so
Could Heathrow's third runway take off? The Scottish government thinks so (Source: Getty)

It's not quite lift off for any of the airport expansion proposals just yet (and may not be for a while) but Heathrow's third runway proposal was given a boost after the Scottish government gave its backing to the airport's plan.

The merits of the various options have been debated for a while, but ministers emphasised the draws of significant job creation and major investment opportunities in Heathrow's plan. In terms of strategic and economic benefits for Scotland, the third runway passed the test with flying colours.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Scottish government economy secretary Keith Brown said: "We have been clear from the start of this process that we wanted the best deal for Scotland and building a third runway at Heathrow provides the most significant benefits to the country's economy and connectivity."

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The government commended Gatwick's proposals, but Brown said Heathrow's proposal crucially "seeks to address how all of Scotland's airports benefit from the new runway capacity when it comes and also in the lead-up period".

Heathrow's CEO John Holland-Kaye welcomed the announcement and said it reflected how his airport's expansion could benefit regions across the UK.

"An expanded Heathrow would create up to 16,000 jobs in Scotland," he said. "It would facilitate more airlines flying routes to Scottish airports, meaning more flights, more competition and choice for families and businesses across the nation."

It also would mean "more visitors to Scotland, more destinations for Scottish tourists and more opportunity for Scottish businesses to reach export markets".

A Gatwick spokesperson however said: "We are surprised that the Scottish government has chosen to support a proposal which we believe will undermine Scotland's connections with the world, making it more dependent on London and the south east of England and restricting the choice available to Scottish travellers by forcing more of them to fly through London."

Read more: Get on with it: Businesses get impatient over runway woes

They also expressed scepticism over the suggested benefits to Scotland, saying they were "unlikely to bear serious scrutiny", making the decision "all the more curious".

Gatwick remains confident that expansion will happen at its airport and "prevail over the old-fashioned monopoly being planned by Heathrow".

The airport expansion decision has dragged on, but Theresa May confirmed at the Conservative Party Conference that a choice would be made "shortly", with the expectation being that an announcement will be made in the next few weeks.

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