I sometimes wonder if Think Tanks earn their keep by generating headlines, often of a sensational nature. True to form, the New Economics Forum called yesterday for the closure of London City Airport.
Their primary arguments appear to be the need for housing, alternative airports nearby, the blight that LCY causes in the local borough and the noise it generates in South and East England. They claim that it generates relatively few jobs – although if you work there I doubt you see it that way. They also complain that wealthy businessmen are the only ones to benefit from the airport.
It seems to me odd, given the huge amount of brownfield land around the airport that NEF would consider LCY such a bad deal. Most of the staff I spoke to at the airport lived locally and with the airports expansion plans more and more jobs will be created. I wonder if they included all the cab drivers who earn their living from the airport in their numbers? They ignore the economic benefits brought to the area in terms of hotels nearby. Whilst wealthy businessmen (and one hopes businesswomen) do benefit, the push for LCY to get more usage from its runways, had led to the addition of significant new leisure destinations with flights at non-business times.
Of course there other airports in London but if you based in East or North East London they are tricky and expensive to reach. Complaints about LCY adding to pollution seem poorly researched when you look at the number of travellers arriving by Dockland Light Railway which to and from Bank, at the heart of the City of London. Many more business people use cabs to Heathrow than to City.
Let’s hope this is just hot air and that no one is listening to this particular report.
The BBC are reporting that in reply, LCY said:
“The only airport in London provides a direct route to the capital’s business, financial and political centres, facilitating inward investment and economic growth.”
She added closing the airport would put 2,000 people out of work, prevent the creation of a further 1,500 jobs by 2023 and remove £750m a year from the economy.