New runway could land financial windfall

A SECOND runway at Stansted Airport would bring massive economic benefits to the region and may even boost tourism, business chiefs predicted last night.

A SECOND runway at Stansted Airport would bring massive economic benefits to the region and may even boost tourism, business chiefs predicted last night.

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said it could help bring millions of pounds into Suffolk alone.

He said small businesses in the region would benefit from an extra runway at Stansted after transport secretary, Alistair Darling, gave the go-ahead to the plans yesterday .

The government's long-awaited aviation White Paper determines that a second runway should be developed in time to open around 2011 or 2012.

Mr Feltwell said yesterday : "Over the years it will definitely help Suffolk companies develop more as they can be in closer contact with their customers.

"It is very difficult. We want to retain work in Suffolk but we can only do that if we are competitive. Better air travel means better use of your time. It will mean millions of pounds a year for Suffolk."

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Mr Feltwell said businesses were made up of "real people" who could not ignore the environmental consequences.

But he added that as far as business is concerned, the chamber welcomes any development in Suffolk that gives more trade destinations.

"Businesses in Suffolk trade internationally and they want to do better business with their customers. That can only happen with good quality international and inter-continental links," he said.

"A lot of small businesses supply the larger businesses that do the exporting - the supply chain. About 80 to 90% of international trade is made by small companies and local businesses.

"We have trade missions to the Far East and we get quite big orders manufactured and produced in Suffolk and those companies then employ local people."

David Crozier, chief executive of Essex Chamber of Commerce, said: "Basically Stansted is one of the three main gateway opportunities for the eastern region.

"The expansion of Stansted by one runway is what we have said the airport transport industry appears to need if it is going to keep up with the present pace of the economy.

"It is terribly important that anything at Stansted is fully supported by the appropriate improvements of the infrastructure like road and rail and that public transport use is properly implemented and considered.

"Clearly, the economic benefits are not only employment prospects at the airport itself, but also from secondary markets which support the airport."

He added that the expansion would be a "boost to tourism" and that BAA would be likely to try and bring in a transatlantic carrier.

Meanwhile, aviation coalition Freedom to Fly, which represents airlines, businesses, trade unions and tourism, welcomed the Government announcement.

Chairman Brenda Dean said: "After decades of prevarication the Government has finally acknowledged the vital importance of additional runway capacity, not just for the south east of England but through regional development at Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Cardiff.

"The proposed new runway at Stansted will begin to meet the increasing demand envisaged over the next three decades and the industry is confident it will be able to rapidly put in place the environmental safeguards to ensure the door is opened for the capacity increases at Heathrow and Gatwick that can guarantee London's position as the premier global aviation centre.

"It is now a matter of when, not if, the development of Heathrow will begin."

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