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Improvements to regional airports and other transport infrastructure could boost East of England’s economy by £23bn, CBI claims

PUBLISHED: 16:19 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 20 April 2017

The check-in area at Norwich Airport. Picture: Antony Kelly.

The check-in area at Norwich Airport. Picture: Antony Kelly.

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2010

Infrastructure improvements will play a vital role in securing a £23.2bn boost to the East of England’s economy, a business organisation has claimed.

In its Shaping Regional Infrastructure report, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) states improving links around the country, including at regional airports such as Norwich and Stansted, will unlock higher productivity gains and a chance for regions to connect with more international markets.

The organisation’s East of England director, Richard Tunnicliffe, said: “Ramping up trade with international partners – old, new and in all corners of the world – will be crucial to making a success of Brexit.

“This makes it doubly important to better connect firms to these markets, particularly through the government’s commitment to a long-term aviation strategy and giving our regional airports a new lease of life.”

Analysis by the CBI showed the East of England’s economy could grow by £23.2bn by 2024 if its productivity reaches a record pace achieved between 2004 and 2014.

Enhanced rail connections and a long-term aviation strategy were said to be crucial in connecting firms with new and existing international markets to export to, as well as giving firms access to a broader labour pool and better links to the supply chain.

Mr Tunnicliffe said: “England’s infrastructure is the arteries and veins by which the country, its economy and businesses function. But with a third of East of England firms dissatisfied with the state of our region’s roads, rails and ports, it is vital the pace of taking action and delivering improvements is stepped up.

“Infrastructure is a key driver of productivity. By making it easier for staff to get to work and by better connecting companies to their customers, markets overseas and supply chains, we could do a great deal to lift England’s productivity.”

Chris Wiggan, head of external affairs at Stansted Airport, said: “We fully support the findings of this study and urge a new Government to act on the recommendations and capitalise on the untapped potential of Stansted and the East of England through a range of measures including improving journey times to London and Cambridge, dualling the A120 and removing planning caps to allow Stansted to make full and efficient use of its single runway.

“If we are to maintain and boost regional and international competitiveness making full use of Stansted is critical given runway capacity in the south east is at a premium and any new runway is at least a decade away.”

The CBI report draws on conversations with Unlocking Regional Growth, the UK’s largest business group, and the 2016 CBI/AECOM infrastructure survey.

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