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Failure to build new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow costing £9.5bn a year, report finds

Failure to build a new runway in the South-east is costing the UK economy £1m in lost trade every hour, according to new findings.

Campaign group Let Britain Fly has found that continued failure to build a new runway in the South-east is preventing £9.5bn of international trade in the country every year.

Across the UK, the South-east will be hit hardest, with £2bn of potential trade lost every year.

Broken down, London will miss out on £1.6bn of trade, while the West Midlands is set to lose £967m and the North-west £761m.

A decision on whether to choose Gatwick or Heathrow as the location for a new runway has yet to be made.

An announcement was expected last December and then again in the summer, but was again delayed until at least October following the EU referendum in June. 

Let Britain Fly said a “decision is essential if the UK is to prosper in the global economy post-Brexit”.

In 2015, £72.8bn of exports travelled through London’s airports, with 74 per cent of those goods travelling to non-EU countries.

Heathrow is currently the biggest airport in terms of freight, carrying 1.4m tonnes last year.

East Midlands International is the second biggest, handling 292,000 tonnes of freight last year, while Gatwick is fifth, carrying 73,000 tonnes.

London First chief executive Baroness Jo Valentine said: “More than half of UK exports to non-EU countries currently go by air, from Scottish salmon to pharmaceuticals, Brompton bikes to Formula 1 cars.

“A new runway in the South-east is critical to supporting exports from all over the UK, allowing us to open new routes to emerging markets and expand existing links.

“For the UK to truly prosper in the global economy post-Brexit, we must have more frequent and direct flights to these destinations.”

Let Britain Fly spokesman Matthew Hill said: “Government has a clear recommendation for a new runway from the Airports Commission, and its failure to take a decision is harming the whole of UK plc.

“Global trade links with developing markets are more important for British industry than ever before, not only for exporting products but also for opening up new opportunities for our services sector.

“Building a new runway would send a clear message, written in concrete, that we are open for business. Government must now decide.”

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