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Airport plan ‘a catalyst for growth’ - Chamber

13 June 2019

Birmingham Airport has published its long-term plans following a 12-week public consultation to gather feedback from community and regional stakeholders and has been welcomed by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) as “a catalyst for growth”.

Its Master Plan and Surface Access Strategy outlines how the airport will develop its site to handle the increase in passenger numbers up to the year 2033. It includes an investment of half a billion pounds that will transform the terminal and customer experience, while creating jobs for 34,000 people and generating over £2 billion regional economic benefit.

The final Master Plan addresses feedback received during the consultation period, which began in the Autumn of 2018. The programme of engagement was devised to give interested parties the opportunity to provide their views on the draft Master Plan and Surface Access Strategy.

It included 20 public consultation events in local communities, as well as meetings with a range of regional stakeholders and community groups, and a dedicated website for respondents to answer a series of set questions and submit comments.

Over the 12 weeks, 129 responses were received, with the majority of community and residents responding to the set questions via the website. A total of 132 people attended the public events that were held in 20 venues across Solihull, Birmingham, Coventry, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Sandwell.

Seventy-seven per cent of respondents supported the decision by the airport to make use of its existing runway, whilst 70 per cent agreed it should safeguard land for the future.

Meanwhile, 73 per cent were in favour of the airport doing more to maximise employment and economic benefits and 74 per cent wanted to see it minimise environmental impacts as it grows. Seventy per cent agreed with its approach to community engagement.

The most common themes of feedback were around surface access, the environment and flight path changes – as well as a desire to see more flights to the US and Far East.  The main changes made to the final Master Plan were around strengthening information on inclusive growth, air pollution and the airport’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.

Nick Barton (pictured), Birmingham Airport’s CEO, said, “We’ve applied significant efforts to consult as far and wide, through as many channels as possible, with as many people as we could, to give people the chance to tell us what they think of our future plans. We’re therefore pleased to see that the majority of feedback received was in general support of our plans for growth, which were considered to be sustainable, economically viable and socially responsible.

“Making our future vision available to our neighbours and regional partners gives clarity and guidance and we’re very grateful to all those that took time to give us their feedback. This has helped us ensure that our future plans are right and will benefit our local community and the wider Midlands region.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “A clear thread which runs through the Airport’s Masterplan is the importance of partnership working in a bid to drive economic development and I’m pleased to say the Chamber played an important part in shaping this process.

“Over the last 12 months, the Chamber hosted roundtables, held speaker forums and surveyed our three thousand members in a bid to gain a clear understanding of what the local business community wants to see from its regional airport.

“Opening supply chain opportunities for local firms, enhancing global links, maximising employment growth and tackling ingrained issues of air pollution were all topics which were regularly raised and I’m delighted to see the prominence of these points has been accurately reflected in the latest publication.

“In particular, the Masterplan offers a coherent and consistent blueprint on how the Airport can act as a catalyst for growth for the West Midlands and play an integral part in shifting away from our continual reliance on the south to drive prosperity levels.

“As we continue to face economic headwinds, BHX’s plan is sustainable, self-costed, provides value for money and offers enough flexibility to adapt to a potential shifting political landscape.

“The opportunities and challenges our region faces over the decade are well documented and I’m a firm believer that having a thriving and dynamic airport in the region will simply galvanise and compliment the benefits we will accrue from the arrival of HS2 and the advent of the Commonwealth Games.

The Master Plan and Surface Access Strategy - together with a Consultation Report outlining the consultation process, all responses and changes to the draft versions – can be found via the airport’s website.

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