Third runway is worth 1bn a year to UK

THE UK&rsquo;s economy is set to lose between &pound;900m and &pound;1.1bn every year the third runway at Heathrow is delayed, according to a report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said yesterday.<br /><br />The controversial expansion, which was given the go-ahead by the then transport secretary Geoff Hoon in January, could be worth up to &pound;30bn to the entire country over 60 years, the group said, as it saves business passengers time and boosts their productivity.<br /><br />The report said the shortage of capacity at Heathrow meant it was falling behind European competitors like Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports as international hub links. It also said that Heathrow had fallen from being the number one airport in Europe by destinations served, to fifth place over the past twenty years.<br /><br />But the Tories slammed the survey, saying it failed &ldquo;to address the huge cost impact of the environmental damage that would be caused by a third runway&rdquo;.<br /><br />While businesses have backed the expansion, environmentalists and Conservatives have scorned the plan.<br /><br />Local councils are currently seeking a judicial review into the government&rsquo;s decision, with some calling for an alternative airport on the Thames Estuary.<br /><br />A report from engineer Douglas Oakervee, who masterminded Hong Kong&rsquo;s international airport island in the 1990&rsquo;s, on the feasibility of an estuary airport is due out tomorrow.<br /><br />He is expected to say that an estuary airport &ndash; which is backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson &ndash; could be built in around 10 years.<br /><br /><strong>HEATHROW&rsquo;S ECONOMIC IMPACT: WHAT THE REPORT SAYS</strong><br />Biggest UK airport &ldquo;Heathrow carries <br /><strong>70m<br /></strong>passengers per year&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>Expansion is vital</strong><br />&ldquo;For every year that hub capacity expansion fails to happen, the economy loses <br /><strong>&pound;900m-&pound;1.1bn</strong>&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>Inferior alternatives</strong><br />&ldquo;If a Thames Estuary hub took 20 years longer than Heathrow expansion, the economy would lose between <br /><strong>&pound;8.9bn - &pound;10.9bn&rdquo;</strong><br /><br /><strong>Economic benefits</strong><br />&ldquo;Expansion at Heathrow would mean economic benefits of <br /><strong>&pound;8.6bn-&pound;12.8bn </strong><br />directly, plus &pound;20bn in wider benefits&rdquo;