Heathrow's Third Runway Is A Statement Of Intent -- The UK Is Open For Business Beyond The EU

It's controversial, but sometimes you've got to crack a few eggs to make a proverbial omelette. UK ministers have approved the near GBP18bn expansion of Heathrow Airport and the next year or so is going to see a lot of protest and noise, but ultimately, Heathrow has always been the more likely of Britain's airportsto get a new runway -- the first to be built in the south since the 1950s. 

The Green Party is saying that the UK cannot meet its environmental commitments if the runway goes ahead and a local MP, who ran to be Mayor of London, Zac Goldsmith, is on the verge of resigning his seat.

The thing is, however, that in business circles this is widely being welcomed as a necessary step to keep Britain "open for business" beyond the 2020s, when our airport capacity is due to run out. It's pretty horrid if yours is one of the houses that will be bulldozed and it's pretty awful for people in the nearby flight zone who will have more noise to contend with. The realist in me would point out, however, that nobody who is affected will be surprised. They bought a house that was already affected by Heathrow noise and expansion of the airport has been on the cards for decades. News of the third runway approval has been in the post for a long time. 

As for the media and advertising industry, it can only be good news that Britain sends out this very positive message that it needs to increase its air capacity to deal with new opportunities that will arise from Brexit. Nobody knows what the terms of the UK's exit from the EU will be, but they do know that it will almost certainly involve a freedom to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers and get in ships and build new trading relationships. Those modern ships are, of course, airplanes.

It's telling that Heathrow was always clearly the winner against Gatwick in the debate over expansion. It's the world-famous airport for businesspeople, particularly those on long-haul trips, whereas Gatwick is -- not all the time but at least most of it -- the airport for holidays, city breaks and short-haul business trips. 

So, if London were to defend its position as an advertising and media capital after Brexit, this new runway had to happen. Trust me, there will be a lot of protest and objection, but it will happen. The country's message is that in a post-Brexit Britain, we are prepared to increase our ability to jet around the world to win business rather than rely on our position as a leader in the field with a very useful tariff free deal with continental Europe. 

It's a statement of intent. It's a statement the government had to make, and it's one that media executives will likely applaud, unless they live in Richmond and the surrounding area -- in which case, they might always fancy a shift into politics. At least one seat is going to be vacant by the end of the day.

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