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Airports and Ports

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 11454, tabled on 3 February 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to increase capacity for (a) freight and (b) passenger traffic at (i) each UK ferry port, (ii) Heathrow and (iii) Gatwick; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

6 February 2020

UK ports are successful private enterprises, with a long history of private sector investment, that operate on a commercial basis delivering the capacity and capability required to serve their markets. As such the Government does not routinely intervene to increase capacity for either freight or passenger traffic. The Government is supportive of ambitions for Port growth, and has set out its vision and ambitions for the future of the British maritime sector in the Maritime 2050: navigating the future.

This Government has over the last 12 months, provided significant investment worth £30 million to our national ports infrastructure, including the Ports Infrastructure Resilience and Capacity fund which has been granted to ensure that UK ports are not only prepared for growth, but they are ready and eager for it.

The Airports National Policy Statement was designated as government policy in June 2018 following a vote in the House of Commons. It sets out that there is a need to increase airport capacity in the South East of England by 2030 by constructing one new runway and that this need is best met by the Northwest runway scheme at Heathrow Airport. It requires that at least 740,000 air transport movements are delivered at Heathrow per annum.

The Northwest runway scheme would enable Heathrow to nearly double its current freight capacity, it would also lead to better domestic connectivity by securing at least 14 domestic routes.

The Government is also supportive of airports making best use of their existing capacity, subject to the assessment of the merits of individual applications, including consideration of their environmental impacts. The Government set out its policy position for the South East of England in Beyond the Horizon: The future of UK aviation: Making best use of existing runways.

These policies make clear that the government considers that potential airport growth applications should be considered under the appropriate planning regime and should take careful account of all relevant considerations, particularly economic and environmental impacts and proposed mitigations.

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