Grant Shapps and BIG Group’s Report Pushes for Regional Airport Expansion

Following on from our post reporting on the push for the British Infrastructure Group’s (BIG) Report for a decision on South East, here, the full report is now available to read.

In the report, as well as pushing for a decision on expansion of hub airport space in the South East, it also very much pushes the case for regional airports, stressing that they must be allowed to expand to help address capacity issues. It also notes that there must be a concerted effort to join infrastructure to the regional airports.

It points out that

The closure or partial closure of airports, as at Plymouth, Filton, Blackpool and Manston, wastes capital investment, disperses staff, and impoverishes local areas.

You can read the full report here:

There is also an interesting response from the CAA to BIG’s initial call for evidence here:

BIG’s Recommendations

  1. Make an urgent and immediate decision on hub airport expansion. The problem of capacity at the current hub, Heathrow, is causing substantial damage to the industry as a whole. It erodes confidence in the Government’s stated ambition of growing the economy and our international trade. The evidence has been gathered by the Airport Commission. Now a decision is needed, to show the new leadership’s mettle.
  2. Expand our regional airports. Demand for flights is soaring and regional airports have begun to offer credible long‐haul services. For the sake of UK PLC, regional airports must be allowed to expand. Only their expansion can address the coming ‘capacity crunch’ and deliver sustained growth, underlining the concepts of the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine and sharing the proceeds of growth across Britain.
  3. Progressively Lower Airport Passenger Duty (APD). Britain’s major aviation tax, APD, is many times the rate of similar taxes in European competitors and trading partners such as the USA. In fact, the tax rate is higher than in any other country except Chad. APD hinders exports, distorts the market, and hits small carriers hard. As the UK seeks to forge new trading relationships post‐Brexit, we can’t afford to maintain any barriers to trade, including APD. BIG believes that a lowered rate, by boosting the wider economy, would eventually be cost neutral for the Treasury.2 Bringing forward hub airport expansion could allay the cost in the interim – around a third of APD could be waived with the proceeds of bringing construction forward a year.
  4. Join up infrastructure to regional airports. Even airports as large as Bristol and Luton suffer from congested roads and delay‐prone rail links. Planning improvements should be a priority of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC).
  5. Make regulation small‐airport‐friendly. Existing regulation is often suited to large airports. Smaller airports cannot enjoy the same economies of scale. We should lower the burden by giving the main regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a ‘regional connectivity’ brief.
  6. Improve funding for local start‐up routes. The Government uses Public Service Obligations (PSOs) fund outlying routes; they could form a more coherent network in outlying areas. The Government uses the Regional Air Connectivity Fund (RACF) to pay start‐up costs for new, commercially viable routes; this fund needs more streamlined, airport‐friendly management.
  7. Fast‐track enterprise zone development around airports. In a competitive industry, airports rely on commercial activity around them to support their services. Enterprise zones should be fast‐tracked through the planning system.


The report has the support of over 40 cross-party MPs:

  1. Gavin Robinson
  2. Adrian Bailey
  3. Maria Caulfield
  4. Oliver Colville
  5. Angela Watkinson
  6. Laurence Robertson
  7. Catherine McKinnell
  8. Greg Knight
  9. Nigel Evans
  10. Graham Brady
  11. Mary Glindon
  12. Gerald Howarth
  13. Andrew Rosindell
  14. Philip Davies
  15. Bob Neill
  16. Caroline Spelman
  17. James Davies
  18. Kevin Hollinrake
  19. Pauline Latham
  20. Karen Lumley
  21. Mike Wood
  22. Daniel Poulter
  23. Ben Howlett
  24. Jonathan Djanogly
  25. Nigel Huddleston
  26. Crispin Blunt
  27. Justin Tomlinson
  28. Anne-Marie Morris
  29. Cheryl Gillan
  30. Scott Mann
  31. Alex Shelbrook
  32. David Warburton
  33. Derek Thomas
  34. Nigel Mills
  35. Nick Boles
  36. Henry Bellingham
  37. Charlie Elphicke
  38. Richard Drax
  39. Andrew Bingham
  40. Mike Kane
  41. Hugo Squire
  42. Grant Shapps