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HS2 makes Birmingham Airport 'viable for expansion'

West Midlands MPs from all three major parties criticised the interim report by the Sir Howard Davies Airport Commission, which included two possible options to expand Heathrow

High Speed Rail

The new high-speed rail link between London and the north of England should have made Birmingham Airport a viable contender for expansion, MPs have said.

But despite the new railway and free capacity in Birmingham, a review in to the future of Britain's airports ruled out considering a second runway there until at least 2050.

West Midlands MPs from all three major parties criticised the interim report by the Sir Howard Davies Airport Commission, which included two possible options to expand Heathrow.

Labour MP Ian Austin (Dudley North), a former aide to Gordon Brown, said Birmingham Airport should have been a contender for expansion.

"Birmingham Airport is right in the middle of the country, right next to the major motorways on the UK and with HS2. It will be in easy reach of the vast majority of people who live in Britain," he said.

"People in the West Midlands will be utterly staggered that they have got to wait until 2050 before consideration will be given to its expansion."

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said Birmingham's runway has already been extended and that he hopes it will prosper as Manchester Airport has done.

"I am certainly not going to talk Birmingham Airport down now," he said.

"They have done an extension to their runway. There is a lot more availability at Birmingham Airport and I want to see it prosper along the lines of other airports like Manchester."

Karen Lumley, Conservative MP for Redditch, also said she is disappointed with the decision to rule out expanding Birmingham International.

"With the Government's determination to build HS2 and to rebalance our economy and actually make Birmingham Airport 38 minutes from London Euston, do you share my concern and disappointments that Birmingham Airport was not included in the initial recommendations?" she said.

Mr McLoughlin replied: "It is a very good airport. It is one that I like and use regularly. But I would say is this: I think Birmingham will, by what it has already done extending the runway, be able to offer more services to people of the West Midlands and I hope to take advantage of it."

Liberal Democrat Lorely Burt (Solihull) said a larger airport in the West Midlands would help the region's economy.

In a question to Mr McLoughlin, she said: "I thought that Sir Howard's remit was to examine aviation provision for the whole of the UK economy.

"Do you share my disappointment that he seems focused on the self-fulfilling prophecy that growth feeds further demand in the south-east and do you share my wish that further consideration should be given to growth in resurgent economies, at Birmingham International for the Midlands, and for other regional airports and economies?"

Labour MP Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) said better road and rail links are needed for the airport.

"I am not sure I derive much comfort that the expansion of Birmingham will be decided in 2050 by which time I will be 95 years old," she said.

"However, can I suggest something to you which would you could do now: you could compel Network Rail to improve surface access to airports so that those airports which have spare capacity like Birmingham are actually properly connected?"

McLoughlin said there is "room for improvement" in transport links to Birmingham Airport.

 

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