We have previously written about the importance of the Heathrow third runway vote, however, today MP’s will finally sit down and vote on the expansion plans. This vote could mean monumental changes for the transport industry, and by default, freight forwarders across the country, whilst also showing were cracks may lie within both Labour and Tory influencers. This is a huge day for the commerce, and if you don’t know exactly what this could mean, then please, let me talk through the highs and lows of a Heathrow expansion.

I’ll start by being a cynic. Noise / air pollution must be a main concern to residents close to the airport and runways. Whilst the government has promised to keep a sharp eye on any form of environmental change caused by the expansion, and uphold strict sanctions if these factors became detrimental. However, reports have suggested that increased levels of noise for residents, consistent breaches of air pollution safety levels and increasing amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, factors that the previous runways have all been guilty of in the past, will continue to happen with the third runway.

Funding for transport projects, with the aim of building an easy distribution and networks system with the North of England is also in danger of losing out on funding in favour of the third runway. Opposition from the likes of Boris Johnston has been helpful endorsement for the naysayers, however, his absence from the vote today doesn’t help anyone.

The economic impact, much in the same way Brexit did, has a lot of confusion around it. People against the runway have pointed out that airports outside London would experience a reduction in aviation traffic which would, in turn, at the very least lead to a slowdown in growth and could in fact lead to lead to a reduction in jobs at airports in regions across the UK.

Leaving any environmental and potential economic downfalls to one side, from a freight perspective, and of course I am bias on this, the runway needs to happen. Whilst I’m not one to usually jump on the back of government pledges (I felt the wrath of fee’s rising at university, thanks Nick.) promises of no cost to taxpayers, an economic boost providing 100,000 jobs, guaranteed benefits for the whole country including internal flights, rail links and “global opportunities” for regional firms, built-in environmental protections and the ability to fine Heathrow or ground aircraft if the airport breaks its own promises over the scheme. This seems like a rather well thought out compromise being able to provide freight forwarders with the much-needed capacity and efficiency relief the industry needs.

Air freight counts around 40% of UK imports and exports and with supply chain modifications constantly innovating the speed of distribution, Heathrow simply will not be able to cope with the increased cargo capacity coming to it, resulting in an eventual collapse in the current systems of organisation.

Everyone is going to have a different opinion on if we should start the expansion or not, it really is a matter of how it will affect you. Although, if we look at the issue through the tinted glasses of a freight forwarder, then the runway makes a lot more sense and could curb issues that have been dragging inefficiency into the industry for a decade or more now. We will wait and see how MP’s see the situation later this afternoon.

Matt Dailly | Editor | FORWARDER Magazine