As the MP who proudly boasts Doncaster Sheffield Airport in my constituency, may I welcome to this event today.
May I welcome the small businesses with ambition to grow; the firms with ambition to export more; or export for the first time. And may I welcome representatives of Heathrow and the firms associated with aviation at Robin Hood Airport.
This event is about Heathrow, but it is also about our future, here in Doncaster.
But first, I should say that the future that looks much brighter than it did in 1995.
For those of you who know Doncaster has a 100 year history of aviation.
From 1915 the Royal Flying Corps sent BE2 fighters from BANCROFT Farm, Finningley to bring down zeppelin bombers.
From 1936 Finningley was an RAF base, playing a major role in world war two. The graves of Polish pilots are honoured every year in St Oswald’s cemetery in Finningley.
In ‘60s it was home to the “Tin triangle”, the Vulcan bomber, carrying our nuclear deterrent. The V bomber was last used in the Falklands war.
Sadly, in 1995, the Government of the day announced RAF Finningley would close and be earmarked for a prison. Again, if you know Doncaster – we are not short of prisons.
From my election in 1997, I was proud ensure the Government cancelled the prison; and I lobbied for the site to be sold for aviation.
When Peel outlined their plan for an airport, I became, probably, the only MP in history to present a 21,000 signature petition to parliament in favour of an airport and against having a public enquiry.
When Heathrow proposed its third runway, I bet it would have loved to have had roughly just 600 objectors; and 250 times that number supporting them.
In June, I was pleased to vote in Parliament for Heathrow’s third runway – for me a decision long overdue.
We have a habit in the UK of delaying major infrastructure decisions; and we do so at a cost.
The Channel tunnel was first entertained by French engineer under Napoleon in 1802; versions of the tunnel were support throughout the 19th century; Churchill advocated it in the 1920s; the French and British agreed to build it in 1964. It eventually opened in 1994.
192 years in the making – we can do things slowly in the UK.
The Third Runway became an official proposal on 2003, under Tony Blair. Parliament finally voted to approve it by 415 votes to 119 in June this year. Construction is likely to start in 2021 and finished around 2025.
So the planning starts now.
Runways are a lot more than tarmac. 60% of the value of the third runway will be built off site.
Logistics hubs will enable much of that construction; allowing many of the 14,000 workers needed to work outside London, a far cheaper prospect.
I hope Doncaster will get one of those logistics hubs;
But my challenge to Heathrow is to move quickly to resolve this.
Creating a ridiculous long list of 60 possible sites has raised expectation across the North, many of which will be unfulfilled. In the interests of fairness, Heathrow needs to create certainty, not prolong uncertainty.
But more than that, I hope we get a direct flights to Heathrow.
Heathrow is the UK gateway to the world. Heathrow represents more than just 78million passengers, 180 destinations and a base for 80 airlines.
It has 29 million business passengers pass through Heathrow.
Connections to 28 of the worlds’ largest cities; more major cities than any other airport worldwide.
The Third runway will enable guaranteed slots for regional airports – these are vital to ensure our businesses and travellers can move seamlessly from Doncaster to Chicago or Singapore.
You think I’m joking? We have a small firm in Thorne, new Era, which currently exports to over 20 countries. Fish food sold in huge quantities to aquaria from Monterey to Hong Kong.
Over 70 firms currently export through the Doncaster Chamber.
Many ship their goods by sea – but we need more to take advantage of aviation.
I believe there are many firms in Doncaster with products that can be sold around the world – they just need the knowhow and the confidence, which is why I’m delighted the Department for International Trade is represented here today.
The UK has always been a trading nation. That may become even more important post-Brexit; and that is one of the reasons I backed a third runway at Heathrow.
Aviation accounts for just 1% of the weight of UK exports; but over 40% of the value.
Heathrow represents a third of all our exports to non-EU countries.
For example: in 2015, £48billion worth of goods were exported from Heathrow, including
£26billion worth of precious metals
£3billion of jewellery.
£3billion of aircraft turbo jets.
46,000 tonnes of Scottish Salmon each year.
20,000 tonnes of books.
I want more cargo coming and going from Doncaster; but I want to see more cargo from Heathrow too.
Ten years ago, I hosted a meeting for Doncaster businesses on how to export to Eastern Europe.
Today our connections between Doncaster and Eastern Europe are better than ever; and the UK’s embassies are in those countries to support you and help make contacts with trading partners, if you have something to sell.
Recently, I backed a Bill to enable “Made in England” to be stamped on our ceramics.
A worthy Bill, which recognised that made in England is a stamp of quality.
But, in my heart, I want to see “Made in Doncaster” on more products leaving this country.
It is not unrealistic. It can happen.
And in this room today, are some of the people to help make it possible.
Thank you and enjoy your day.