Birmingham Airport’s campaign to expand has received a major boost after Transport Secretary Justine Greening said she wanted to “remove barriers” which prevented it growing.
The airport has been lobbying ministers to be allowed to expand and meet growing demand for air travel.
In the long term, airport managers argue that regional airports such as Birmingham should be considered as an alternative to plans backed by London mayor Boris Johnson for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
Mr Johnson’s proposal, known as Boris Island, would involve creating an artificial island or peninsular.
Speaking to the Birmingham Post, Ms Greening said the planned high speed rail line, which will include a new station close to Birmingham Airport, would make it far more accessible to people from across the country.
She said: “I was up in Birmingham Airport about a month and a half ago and I had a really excellent meeting with the people who run Birmingham Airport, and they made all of those points to me very clearly.
“Of course part of High Speed Two’s proposal will be a Birmingham Interchange station that links up the airport. We recognise these opportunities. We are getting to the end of working on the Aviation Policy Framework, which is basically the aviation strategy.
“As part of that we are quite keen to see what we can do to allow regional airports like Birmingham to flourish.
“They have a key role to play and we want to look at how we can take away some of the barriers that stop them doing that and look at how we can really put them in the best possible position to do well.
“It doesn’t just matter to local communities – it matters to local businesses too. And a huge city like Birmingham obviously needs a successful airport as part of its transport strategy.”
Ms Greening also spoke about plans for a high speed rail station in Birmingham city centre, after HS2 Ltd, the company set up by the Government to oversee high speed rail, announced it had appointed engineering firm Arup to produce preliminary designs for Euston Station in London, which will also receive high speed services.
The redevelopment will include new modern offices and retail space. There will also be the opportunity for new public spaces and community facilities to be created above more spacious platforms and the streets surrounding the station will be easier to access.
Asked about the planned Curzon Street station in Birmingham, Ms Greening said: “We’ll want it to be a world-class station for what I see as a world class city, that will be at the centre of the high speed network we are building.”
“We are at very early stages now of doing the planning, but I was very privileged to be able to be part of opening a new refurbished, renovated Kings Cross station recently, and it shows that some of the opportunities we now have are ones that can really be transformational for cities if we get them right and that’s what I intend to work with Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands as a whole to deliver.”
Meanwhile David Cameron highlighted the Government’s commitment to building a national high speed network in a major speech in London.
High Speed rail would deliver “immense economic and social dividends for the whole of Britain for decades to come”, he said. “It’s a project that will transform connections in our country just as motorways did in the 1960s.
“It’s not only about a quicker line between London and Birmingham – that’s just the first stage – but a national network that connects to Leeds and Manchester with vastly faster, better services. And later this year, we will be setting out detailed plans for this second stage.”
But rail bosses have admitted that when the new Birmingham station is built, the 150-year-old name of Curzon Street Station could be abandoned.
Plans for a new High Speed Two (HS2) station at Curzon Street at Eastside, will be drawn up over the next 18 months but the name of the station, which will be next to the historic 1838 Curzon Street Station entrance, could also be changed.
The station has been called Birmingham Curzon Street since 1852. Prior to that it was simply called Birmingham.