How will Heathrow expansion plans affect small businesses? » SMEInsider

How will Heathrow expansion plans affect small businesses?

As plans for a third runway to be built at Heathrow look to be accepted, small business owners are divided on whether the expansion should go ahead. We analyse the positive and negative impacts of a third runway on British SMEs.

Earlier this week, the Airport Commission ended three years of speculation by publishing its final report concerning British airport expansion.

The commission unanimously concluded that Heathrow Airport is the ideal location for an expansion, with the build providing an extra £150bn to GDP over 60 years and 70,000 new jobs by 2050. There will however be some negative effects felt by local residents and small businesses if the plans go ahead.

One of the areas that would be affected by the commission’s scheme is the town of Harmondsworth.

Once known as “the Cathedral of Middlesex”, over 50 per cent of Harmondsworth would effectively be demolished if development plans went ahead, destroying SMEs, schools and nearly 800 homes. Small businesses owners are already visualising the physical effects of Heathrow’s proposals.

‘‘I’ve got a successful carpet business here in the village. I’m going to lose it when most of the village is decimated. There’ll be nobody here to use the pub, the shops, the church – it will be a ghost town,’’ said Paul Rice, an SME owner based in Harmondsworth.

For those that do not operate in the surrounding area, a third runway seems like an ideal solution for small business owners who are keen to export goods abroad. Speaking to the Guardian, health goods manufacturer Graham Ewart has welcomed plans to create an additional runway.

‘‘Getting products back and forth and bringing customers to the UK as well as flights out of the UK is a daily occurrence for us.’’

‘‘Heathrow is ideally located on the M4 for companies outside of the south-east, so it’s accessible and it offers the kind of long-haul flights to emerging markets which are crucial to the future of our business.’’

Although there have been many concerns expressed by SME owners, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for the development to go ahead.

‘‘With the decision in, there must not be any further excuses or delays. To do so is to put the long-term economic health of the UK at risk,’’ stated John Allan, national chairman of the FSB.

‘‘We are pleased the report has taken into account the growth impact on the rest of the country, making a number of helpful suggestions to ensure benefits of airport expansion are felt in regions beyond London and the South East.’’

Allan also praises Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, ‘‘who has suggested a number of safeguards that should minimise the environmental impact of expansion on the local area. Although this option could present greater political challenges, Ministers must not use this as an excuse for inaction.’’