The return of The Rocket to the Discovery Museum as part of the Great Exhibition of the North is an acknowledgement of our area’s role in the Industrial Revolution. Robert Stephenson’s locomotive was a key part of the Liverpool to Manchester Railway, the first passenger line linking two emerging industrial cities. The rest as they say is history. The line however had its critics who warned about environmental damage, the competition with existing routes and the cost. Fast forward nearly two centuries and Parliament this week had a crucial transport decision to make – this time on building a third runway at Heathrow.
The plan is to make Heathrow the UK’s hub airport with flights to more international destinations and more connections with regional airports like Newcastle. A good transport infrastructure is crucial to a strong economy and this investment is important whatever the outcome of Brexit. Our region stands to benefit from better links with emerging markets, tourists arriving at Heathrow being signposted to the North East and jobs for our businesses as the project develops. There are concerns about the environmental impact and there are plans to address them but I know I may fall out with some of my green friends on this issue. But when jobs and economic growth are at stake, as the builders of those early railways discovered, some opportunities are so important that as a country we cannot afford to miss out on them.