The head of Birmingham’s enterprise partnership, which is backing bold expansion plans at the city’s airport, has called for a third runway to be built at London’s Heathrow.
Andy Street, chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), helped draft a report which makes the case for a new runway in the south east.
The document, by a panel set up by The London First Connectivity Commission, makes no mention of Birmingham Airport’s calls for regional hubs to be allowed to increase passenger numbers to meet growing demand for air travel.
And it dismissed as “unviable” suggestions that the advent of high-speed rail between London and the Midlands could create a “dual hub” involving Heathrow and Birmingham airports.
But Mr Street, who is also the managing director of store chain John Lewis, insisted the report caused him no embarrasment.
“I don’t see anything in the report that says we should not expand Birmingham Airport,” he said.
“The only reference to Birmingham is saying the dual hub model will not work. I stand by that.
“My view of Birmingham Airport is that there is capacity there ready to be used, and we will be lobbying hard for it to be used.”
Birmingham has been lobbying the Government to give it a key role in an aviation strategy to be published by Transport Secretary Justine Greening in the summer. The plans have the support of the LEP.
The airport argues it could double the nine million passengers it currently serves without building new infrastructure and could be serving more than 27 million people by 2030.
It has urged Ministers to make better use of existing regional airports rather than building new runways, or an entirely new airport, in the south.
But the London First report argues that Ministers should give the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow, despite both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats pledging to block any such development when they were in opposition.
Mr Street is one of nine “commissioners” responsible for the report.
He is also on the board of London First, the body representing major employers in the capital, which set up the panel.
Last year he was appointed chairman of Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, a partnership involving local authorities and businesses, which covers Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Redditch, Solihull, Tamworth and Wyre Forest.
The London First report warns new air capacity is needed – and must be created at Heathrow.