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Balfour Beatty and Laing O'Rourke among firms telling chancellor to back Heathrow

Leaders from some of the UK’s biggest construction firms have written to George Osborne urging him to approve the expansion of Heathrow.

Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn and Laing O’Rourke boss Ray O’Rourke are among 13 senior industry figures calling on George Osborne to green-light the building of a third runway at the west London airport.

“At the Conservative conference in 2015 you announced ‘we are the builders’,” the letter said. “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.”

In July the Airports Commission recommended Heathrow ahead of Gatwick as the preferred location for airport expansion in London, with the government saying a decision would be made on runway expansion “by Christmas”.

But in December the prime minister announced that new environmental impact assessments of a Heathrow third runway would be needed, delaying a final decision by six months. The delay means no decision will be taken until after the London mayoral election in May.

The 13 contractors said Heathrow has provided regular work for their businesses over the last 10 years and that expansion would allow them to continue investing in their companies.

“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 offsite manufacturing techniques and provided an international showcase for their work so that they can sell their services around the world.

“Projects such as the 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.”

The letter also highlighted Britain’s poor track record for investing in infrastructure and pointed out that last year was the “worst” for economic growth since the 2007 financial crash.

“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.

It added: “The government’s Airports Commission gave its clear and unanimous backing last summer. Let us help you build a better Britain by expanding Heathrow.”

Full list of signatories

  • Nick Roberts, chief executive officer UK & Europe, Atkins
  • Leo Quinn, group chief executive, Balfour Beatty
  • Stephen Fox, chief executive, Bam Nuttall 
  • Alasdair Reisner, chief executive, Civil Engineering Contractors Association
  • Mario Mostoles, managing director UK & Ireland, Ferrovial Agroman
  • Toby Courtauld, chief executive, Great Portland Estates
  • Ray O’Rourke, chairman and group chief executive, Laing O’Rourke 
  • 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 

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