The planned extension of the Birmingham Airport runway and diversion of the A45 will create almost 3,400 new jobs and deliver a £631 million boost to the local economy.
Forecasts produced for Birmingham City Council by consultants Arup suggest that the two projects combined will trigger significant long-term economic and transport benefits, boosting the popularity of knowledge-based business parks around the M42 corridor.
Diverting the A45 Coventry Road to accommodate the runway extension is estimated to cost £32 million. Birmingham City Council is prepared to contribute £15 million, with the rest of the cost likely to be shared by the airport and the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority Centro. The council stepped in to offer a financial lifeline when a funding package promised by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands collapsed.
Council leaders commissioned the Arup report to demonstrate that spending money on a road scheme in Solihull will bring benefits to Birmingham people. Local authorities are only permitted by law to invest in projects outside of their boundaries if they can show a direct gain.
Arup concluded that even if the runway extension does not go ahead, but the A45 is still diverted, the result will be positive for the economy.
In that case, 1,520 jobs are expected to be created or safeguarded for Birmingham residents, with £164 million in economic input by 2030.
But, if both schemes go ahead the benefits are far greater, according to Arup.
If the runway extension is completed as well as the A45 diversion, about 3,390 jobs are expected to be created or safeguarded for Birmingham residents and the economy will benefit by £631 million over the next 20 years.
But the forecasts were described as “exaggeration” by Friends of the Earth.
West Midlands spokesman Chris Crean said: “We have heard these sorts of figures before. They rarely turn out to be true. We are not saying there won’t be increased economic activity from this project.
“We do say that the A45 is being diverted solely for the benefit of the airport, so the airport should meet the cost and not council taxpayers.”
The analysis suggests the A45 works will provide residents and businesses with £20 million of direct transport benefits through faster journey times. It is proposed to divert the A45 between Damson Parkway and Junction 6 of the M42, providing a dual carriageway in both directions.
A spin-off benefit from the A45 works is likely to involve job creation in parts of east Birmingham, with faster access to regeneration sites.
The report added: “In particular the project will support and improve connectivity between major employment areas and deprived areas of East Birmingham.
“The scheme will result in an additional number of new jobs being created as a consequence of the sites in Birmingham becoming more attractive as well as safeguarding existing employment opportunities through reducing the likelihood of existing firms moving out.’’
“The A45 works will also deliver strategic added value through providing a public transport corridor which will help reduce CO2 emissions, supporting the planned High Speed Rail Terminal and enhancing the image of one of the city’s key gateways.”