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Mace and Motts among industry big hitters pushing Osborne on Heathrow decision

Leaders of the UK's largest construction industry companies have written to the Chancellor George Osborne urging him to make a positive decision in favour of expansion of Heathrow Airport. A group of 13 industry leaders, including the chief executives of Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Mace and Mott Macdonald, have written to Osborne encouraging him to give more tangible evidence to back up government's rhetoric on infrastructure growth.

The letter points out the positive knock on effects that major infrastructure projects produce for jobs in the construction supply chain. It also reminds the Chancellor of slowing global economic growth and the results of an OECD economic study which found the UK had spent less on infrastructure than other OECD countries over the past three decades.

The Davies Commission published its report on south-east airport expansion last year recommending a third runway should be built at Heathrow provided limits on air and noise pollution are met with measures including restrictions on night flights. The government has since said it will look to make a decision in the early summer of this year, after re-examining Heathrow's claims on how it will meet environmental constraints. The decision will also come after the London Mayoral election has taken place in May. This is a key political sticking point because both the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan and his Conservative opponent Zac Goldsmith are basing their campaigns on a no vote for Heathrow.

Meanwhile business leaders have called on government to end the prevarication for the sake of the UK economy, in terms of its overall competitive edge internationally and specifically to maintain the UK's leading position in aviation in Europe. Heathrow is still cureently the busiest airport in Europe, but accordding to figures released by airport operator organisation ACI Europe and reported by the Economist, at current growth rates Heathrow will soon be overtaken by Istanbul Ataturk Airport. According to research by the CBI, failure to get a new runway built at Heahtrow by 2030 could cost the UK economy up to £5.3bn a year.

The letter from the UK's construction industry leaders reminds George Osborne that the Heathrow Airport project is worth £15.6bn to companies of the airport's supply chain.

The letter in full with signatories below:

 

The Rt Hon George Osborne MP
HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road
London
SW1A 2HQ

Dear Chancellor of the Exchequer,

At the Conservative conference in 2015 you announced “we are the builders”. We congratulate you on your vision to build the important infrastructure the country needs and make the hard decisions. We represent some of the largest developers and construction companies in the UK. We applaud your ambition and stand ready to help you deliver it.

We are writing to encourage your support for Heathrow expansion. Heathrow is one of the biggest private developers in the UK, having invested around £11bn over the last 10 years. For over a decade, it has provided a steady base of work to UK construction companies and their supply chains, allowing them to invest in skilled UK jobs through the economic downturn, develop new off-site manufacturing techniques and provided an international showcase for their work so that they can sell their services around the world.

Projects such as Heathrow expansion allow companies like ours to continue to invest in tens of thousands of skilled jobs this country badly needs and new construction techniques that will benefit developers in the UK.
You said recently that we cannot be complacent and assume that ‘the good economic news will just keep rolling in. Last year was the worst for global growth since the crash and this year opens with a dangerous cocktail of new threats from around the world.’ Coupled with these threats is the OECD’s 2015 UK economic survey that said the UK has spent less on infrastructure than other OECD countries over the past three decades.
Heathrow expansion will bring with it a £15.6bn order book to the UK supply chain. Heathrow’s new plan will also make it the most sustainable hub airport and Britain the best connected country in the world. The Government’s Airports Commission gave its clear and unanimous backing last summer. Let us help you build a better Britain by expanding Heathrow.

Regards,

Nick Roberts, Chief Executive Officer UK & Europe, Atkins
Leo Quinn, Group Chief Executive, Balfour Beatty
Stephen Fox CBE, Chief Executive, BAM Nuttall Ltd
Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA)
Mario Mostoles, Managing Director UK & Ireland, Ferrovial Agroman
Toby Courtauld, Chief Executive, Great Portland Estates plc
Ray O'Rourke KBE, Chairman and Group Chief Executive, Laing O'Rourke Plc
Mark Reynolds, Chief Executive, Mace
Nick Fletcher, Managing Director Infrastructure, Morgan Sindall
Keith Howells, Chairman, Mott MacDonald
David Sleath, Chief Executive, SEGRO
Vincent Clancy, Chief Executive Officer, Turner & Townsend
Mark Dobson, Chief Executive, Wilson James Ltd

 

If you would like to contact Jon Masters about this, or any other story, please email jmasters@infrastructure-intelligence.com.