Media Release: New runway capacity must benefit Scotland’s economy, urges SCDI


WELCOMING the UK Government’s decision today (25 October) on a preferred option for new runway capacity at Heathrow, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) called for guaranteed access to slots to improve Scotland’s connectivity and for all political parties to commit to delivery.

The decision follows the evidence-based recommendation of the independent Airports Commission.

The Commission also highlighted in its report: “It is crucial to ensure that expansion at Heathrow delivers benefits for all of the nations and regions of the UK.”

It additionally proposed measures on how the UK Government and Heathrow Airport could support a widespread network of domestic connectivity to and through Heathrow.

Commenting, SCDI’s director of Policy & Place, Claire Mack, said:

“Scotland is a home to some of the UK’s leading international sectors and – as well as the development of more direct routes from Scotland’s airports – global air connectivity through a UK hub in London is of strategic importance to Scotland’s economy.

“SCDI has played an active role in pressing for new capacity to be delivered and it is welcome to see a decision finally being reached after decades of delays and inaction.

“It is vital that new airport capacity works for and benefits the whole UK economy. The UK Government and Heathrow should ensure that approval guarantees access for Scotland’s city regions – especially those with no competitive surface alternative.

“The Airports Commission produced strong evidence that Heathrow is the best option to support our global competitiveness, particularly given its current international networks, and SCDI has found that it is also the preference of Scottish businesses.

“SCDI will now be urging all political parties to commit to implementing this national policy decision and for the UK Government to publish a timetable for its delivery.

“We will also continue to recommend that the Scottish Parliament reduces Air Passenger Duty to help maintain and develop direct routes from Scotland’s airports.”

SCDI’s Highlands & Islands director, Fraser Grieve, added:

“The inability of the UK’s largest airports to expand had seen commercially viable domestic routes squeezed out, and we must ensure that we will not see that past experience repeated when this new capacity at Heathrow begins to fill up.

“The north of Scotland continues to see growth in key sectors and plays an increasingly important role in driving our economy. The UK’s Hub airport must work for the whole UK and it is vital to ensure that areas without a competitive surface alternative have access enhanced and safeguarded.

“Since the reinstatement of an Inverness to Heathrow service in May this year we’ve seen a huge surge in visitors to the Highlands & Islands, and improved access for businesses, highlighting the benefit that hub access brings. 40-50 per cent of passengers on this new service have connected through Heathrow from international destinations.

“SCDI are pleased a decision has been reached, but would have hoped swifter progress could be made in order to deliver the increased airport capacity needed to enhance the UK’s competitiveness.”

Notes to editors:

SCDI (Scottish Council for Development & Industry) is an independent and inclusive economic development network which seeks to influence and inspire Government and key stakeholders with our ambitious vision to create sustainable economic growth for Scotland. SCDI’s diverse and influential membership – across the public, private and social economy sectors – forms a gathering of knowledge, experience and talent which provides a dynamic and creative force for change.
The SCDI Blueprint policy Report ‘From Fragile to Agile’ can be accessed at this link:

For further information, please contact:
Fraser Grieve, Regional Director, SCDI  –  T: 07747 444261   E:

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