Businesses stressed the importance of air travel to the Essex economy at a meeting attended by a Government minister.

Witham MP Priti Patel and the Essex Chambers of Commerce hosted a meeting in the House of Commons yesterday discussing aviation and transport infrastructure.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill spoke at the meeting, along with representatives from Stansted and Southend airports.

After the meeting, Ms Patel said: "Businesses in Essex and the eastern region are fuelling the economic recovery in Britain but could do so much more with improvements to our transport infrastructure.

“Our businesses need strong air travel connections so that they can access opportunities overseas, including in the new and emerging markets, and bring foreign investment into the region."

"The county's airports are making huge, privately funded investments to improve the services they offer and the number of destinations passengers can fly to.”

“To compete internationally we need to build on the success of these airports.”

In October, business group London First proposed £620million of investment to improve rail links from London to Stansted.

Ms Patel said: “We discussed with the minister the importance of the Government developing a long term aviation strategy which takes into account the strength of the East of England as well as the urgent need to improve transport links to our airports."

"Essex has enormous economic potential and with improved infrastructure and better access by road and rail to our airports we can add more value to the economy and create new jobs."