The A453, a major road linking Nottingham to the M1 motorway, must be upgraded if a plan to treble the number of jobs at the airport is to go ahead. Officials hope to boost the resident workforce to an impressive 26,000 over the next two decades.
East Midlands is one of the most important regional airports in the UK, but one that continues to endure relative isolation from neighbouring cities, Leicester and Nottingham. The Highways Agency (HA) is proposing a £194m overhaul of the A453, effectively transforming the road into a dual carriageway.
Ian Briggs, a local planning expert, was keen to see residents embrace the airport as a seat of commerce, but also as one of the region’s largest employers. East Midlands currently employs around 9,000 people, many of whom are forced to commute from the surrounding towns and cities.
Improvements to the A453 could help alleviate congestion on the M1 motorway, reducing accidents, and attracting more customers from the north. The Campaign to Protect Rural England is not impressed with the news, however, and has lobbied to prevent any expansion of the A453, fearing the loss of local wildlife and habitats, and an increase in air pollution.
East Midlands is the second airport this year to be hampered by poor infrastructure, behind Robin Hood. Officials at Doncaster were left shaking their heads when an £11m shortfall in funding derailed plans for a motorway link road – a road that could have brought an extra £1bn a year into the local area.
The outcome of a public inquiry will determine the fate of the proposed A453 expansion.