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Runway indecision is ‘hurting UK’s international events image’

Business Visits and Events Partnership labels new delay extremely disappointing

A decision on a third runway at Heathrow is not expected until summer 2016

The decision to delay an announcement on an additional runway in the South East is causing harm to the UK’s reputation as an international events destination a leading lobby group has said.

An announcement on the whether the government would approve a third runway at London Heathrow, as recommended by the Sir Howard Davies Airports Commission report into aviation capacity in the UK, was expected by Christmas. But Prime Minister David Cameron has put off a final decision on approving a third runway at Heathrow, or the alternative of a second at Gatwick, until at least summer 2016. Ministers have claimed further pollution tests need to be carried out before a final decision can be made.

A new runway is not expected to operational until 2025 at the earliest and the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), which lobbies government on behalf of the industry, says valuable time is being wasted.

“We are extremely disappointed,” chair Michael Hirst said. “The Partnership is a member of the Let Britain Fly campaign, which has for the last two years urged the government to make a decision based upon the recommendations of the Davies Commission – whatever that turned out to be. To countenance a further delay is not only frustrating but will put further back the opportunities to increase business visitor volumes at events.”

The government is currently assembling a representative body of industry figures as part of its blueprint to increase the UK’s international competitiveness, and Hirst says continued delay will have a knock-on effect.

“It also puts in a poor light our competitiveness as a country that purports to be a world class destination for business conferences and exhibitions,” he added. “The events industry will continue to press the case for airport capacity expansion in the South East and will be doing so at a meeting with Robert Goodwell, Minister of State at the Department of Transport next week, along with other representatives of the tourism industry.”

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