Communications worry businessmen.
Inward investment into the South-west's economy will be "well nigh impossible" without better international air services. With this warning, Ivor Simpson, executive director of the Devon and Cornwall Development Bureau, opened the Management Today/DCDB regional lunch at the Moorland Links Hotel outside Plymouth in April.
Warming to this theme, Malcolm Naylor, managing director of Plymouth-based Brymon Airways, argued that with a 150% increase in passenger traffic at regional airports expected in the period 1988 to 2005, some of them are now managing without London at all. "The South-west must follow with selected flights to mainland Europe," he said.
The problem, he believed, was the siting and capacity of the existing airports, and he had a solution: close Exeter and Plymouth airports, and on the proceeds from developing their sites build a much bigger airport to the east of Plymouth, capable of catering for both Plymouth and Exeter.
It was generally agreed that the Channel tunnel would have little impact on the region's business traffic, catering mainly for tourists heading for the South-west's beauty spots. On the freight side, David Mather, the regional railways manager, warned that the first freight village capable of handling huge numbers of containers would probably be in the North-west.
The Atlantic Arc, a grouping of local authorities from the west coast of Spain, France and the South-west, is now being touted as an alternative to the tunnel but efficient ferry services would be required. Here David Longden, of Brittany Ferries, reported that over the next 18 months some £190 million was being invested in new ferries and port facilities.