Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce (TVCC) leaders expressed their deep disappointment and surprise to find there was no specific reference to the Western Rail Link to Heathrow (WRLtH) in the Union Connectivity (Hendy) Review report.
This is despite extensive support for the project from Chambers of Commerce, regional economic and transport forums, the Welsh Assembly and local government, and individual businesses across the benefitting area, many of whom made submissions to the Review.
Paul Britton, TVCC Chief Executive, said “We are not sure why a project with such support delivering benefits to Wales and multiple English regions, and to 14 million people and many thousands of businesses, has not been endorsed by the Union Connectivity review”.
He continued “Our members and those of Chambers in Wales and English regions fear that Government is missing a trick and the economic and environmental benefits of WRLtH will once again be deferred.
We will respond to the consultation on Sir Peter’s report and work with our extensive stakeholder network to persuade Government to fulfil its 2012 undertaking to deliver the scheme.”
WRLtH is a standalone scheme, with a strong economic, environmental and commercial case, based on a two-runway airport and independent of Heathrow’s expansion. Government’s expectation was that Heathrow would make a sizeable contribution to the scheme justified by the need to offset the environmental impact of a third runway and funded by the increased passenger numbers.
The impact of the pandemic has been to push that opportunity into the future. Meanwhile the immediate benefits arising from a two-runway airport are at risk of being ignored.