10 May 2013

MPs call Government to review APD impact and expand Heathrow

MPs have called for the Government to review the impact of APD on the economy and expand Heathrow rather than building a new Thames Estuary airport.

A new House of Commons Transport Select Committee report has recommended studying the impact of APD and exploring the possibility of different rates.

It has also recommended rejecting the new Thames airport, dubbed 'Boris Island' due to being backed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, saying it would be hugely expensive.

Instead the all-party group of MPs urged the Government to expand Heathrow to three or even four runways.

Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman MP said: "Research we commissioned made plain that building an entirely new hub airport east of London could not be done without huge public investment in new ground transport infrastructure.

"Evidence to our inquiry also showed a substantial potential impact on wildlife habitat in the Thames Estuary.

"The viability of an estuary hub airport would also require the closure of Heathrow - a course of action that would have unacceptable consequences."

The prospect of  expanding Heathrow by creating two additional runways two miles to the West - instead of one extra 'third' runway to the North- was put forward by Policy Exchange and CentreForum.

The MPs' report said: "Relocating the runways in this way might result in less noise annoyance for residents under the current flight path, thus addressing the most politically significant objection to the expansion of Heathrow."

The MPs recommendations included:

  • A study of how APD impacts the UK economy
  • Looking at the impacts of different rates of APD
  • Introducing an APD 'tax holiday' for a 12-month trial period for new services operating out of airports outside the South East.

A British Airways spokesman said: "We have already provided compelling evidence that APD should be abolished and the Committee's recommendation of a thorough review of this oppressive tax is encouraging.

"We welcome the Committee's recognition of the economic importance of aviation and the pressing need to address the lack of hub capacity in the UK.  The Committee also backs up our view that a Thames Estuary airport is not a credible option.

Mark Tanzer ABTA chief executive said: "We welcome the Transport Committee's recommendations on aviation strategy to permit essential runway development at existing airports in the South East where the situation is critical.

"In addition the Committee's support for an independent review on the economic impact of Air Passenger Duty is a victory for common sense, echoing the calls made by the Fair Tax on Flying coalition and over 200,000 members of the public.

"We urge the Government to take heed of these recommendations to encourage growth and safeguard the UK's future economic health."


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