Wales politics

Heathrow: Wales funding call after third runway decision

Heathrow Image copyright Getty Images

A decision to build a third runway at Heathrow has been welcomed by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

He said the announcement would "bring tourists to Wales, help our exporters reach new markets and create new jobs".

But the Bridgend AM called for consequential funding to flow to Wales as a result, as well as landing slots and new rail links.

Plaid Cymru's Adam Price accused Mr Jones of giving his support "in return for nothing".

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said the UK government's move showed Wales was "open for business".

Mr Jones said: "I welcome this long-awaited announcement, which will benefit Welsh passengers."

He reiterated his call a "fair allocation" of landing slots for Wales at the expanded airport and urged the UK government to deliver the Western Rail Link to Heathrow by 2024.

Mr Jones added he would work to ensure Wales received consequential funding "to which it is entitled to under the Barnett formula" - the system which decides how much Wales is funded by the UK treasury - and would continue to press for air passenger duty (APD) to be devolved.

It is understood the Welsh Government would want a share of any UK government money spent on upgrading the rail network as a result of the third runway expansion.

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Media captionJonathan Edwards of Plaid said the main beneficiary of the third runway will London and the South East

Plaid Cymru criticised the Welsh Government after it emerged Scottish ministers had agreed a "memorandum of understanding" with Heathrow.

The agreement committed the airport to the creation of 16,000 jobs in Scotland, a reduction in the cost of landing charges and £200m in construction spending during planning and construction.

Mr Price, Plaid's economy spokesman, said: "Unfortunately, the first minister has granted the proposal the Welsh Government's support in return for nothing."

He said a "savvier first minister" would have sought out assurances on improved transport connections, construction spending and for a share of public funds invested.

The Welsh Government said officials had been in discussions with Heathrow about "maximising" the benefits of a third runway - including upgrading transport links and securing manufacturing and construction contracts.

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Media captionAlun Cairns says Wales will get its fair share of public money spent on work needed for Heathrow's third runway

Speaking to BBC Wales, Mr Cairns said Heathrow expansion was almost entirely privately-financed but Wales would get a share of any public spending on infrastructure.

He rejected calls for APD to be devolved, saying evidence suggested there would be a net loss of flights from Cardiff and Bristol airports.

He suggested Welsh ministers would increase the tax rather than cut it.

Roger Lewis, chairman of Cardiff Airport, said a flight between Heathrow and Cardiff Airport was "not out of the question".

He said the journey time between Cardiff Airport and Heathrow would be similar to the existing link to City Airport, which takes 35 minutes.

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Media captionBBC transport correspondent Richard Westcott takes a look at some of the big numbers behind the Heathrow third runway decision

"You could check-in at Cardiff... and go straight the way through to destinations across the world," Mr Lewis told BBC Radio Wales' Good Morning Wales programme.

The airport chief argued Cardiff could help ease long-haul congestion at Heathrow ahead of any new capacity coming into operation.

Meanwhile, Spanish airline Iberia Express announced on Tuesday that it would be flying to Madrid from Cardiff Airport for the summer 2017 season.

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