Surrey County Council has confirmed its commitment to preserving Heathrow’s status as the UK’s hub airport because of the huge economic benefits it brings.
Around 10,000 people in Surrey work at Heathrow with a further 4,000 in related jobs and more than 200 of the UK’s top 300 companies are based within 25 miles of the airport.
It is estimated that tens of thousands further jobs have been created by firms that have moved to be close to Heathrow.
Those firms have helped Surrey generate more than £30 billion annually for the UK economy – more than cities like Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds – and the county contributes more income taxation to the Exchequer than anywhere except the City of London.
At a meeting of the Full Council, Surrey County Council Deputy Leader Peter Martin set out Heathrow’s economic importance. In addition, he underlined that thousands more people in Surrey depend on Gatwick Airport for work.
Heathrow today submitted its proposals to an independent commission looking at raising the UK’s airport capacity. An interim report is due to be published in December, with its final conclusions made public in 2015.
Mr Martin said: “What we have here and now is one of the world’s busiest airports with substantial infrastructure already in place.
“Even the possibility of the loss of Heathrow as a hub would be bad. Uncertainty is a huge concern for businesses. That alone may cause companies wishing to locate to or expand in the UK to be put off, or to choose another country and businesses already based in Surrey may be tempted to go elsewhere.
“We recognise there are issues regarding any expansion of the airports and are clear that measures to address the environmental and transport impact of any development would need to be put in place alongside any increase in flights.
“Indeed we would like to see the Government and the aviation industry prioritise spending now on reducing overcrowding on trains to the airports and congestion on roads around them.”
Brian Farrugia, Chairman of economic development organisation Surrey Connects, said: “The importance of having a strategic airport hub at Heathrow and capacity at Gatwick cannot be understated as it is vital to the future success of Surrey’s economy.
“This makes Surrey a highly attractive place for companies trading internationally, and our connectivity attracts global business investment and secures jobs for local people.”