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Boris hits out at Heathrow as Estuary Airport plans face rejection

Boris Johnson is to continue the fight against the expansion of Heathrow airport after it emerged his plans for an Estuary Airport are to be rejected by the Airports Commission

The commission headed by Howard Davies is expected to announce that the Mayor-backed bid to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary will not make the shortlist of options when the commission makes it’s final recommendation to the government next year.

In a letter in the Telegraph, Johnson has branded re-opening the debate over a third runway at Heathrow as ‘madness’ stating that ‘no government in the Western world would even contemplate an act so self-defeating, so short-termist, and so barbarically contemptuous of the rights of the population’.

Johnson, who is expected to return as an MP next year, has campaigned vigourously for an airport in the Thames Estuary - which has been backed by Norman Foster who submitted his own plans for the scheme.

The Mayor has previously claimed that an estuary airport would support more jobs than an expanded Heathrow airport.

In his latest letter he describes the option of a third runway as a danger to public health, with more than a million residents affected by noise levels over 55db from a third runway, which Johnson argues can contribute to stress and heart disease.

‘A runway would be a disaster for hundreds of thousands of people living under new flight paths, who currently have no idea of the peril,’ Johnson added.

‘As soon as a third runway opened, in other words - after the interminable judicial reviews and appeals - there would be instant pressure for a fourth; and we would be put through the whole miserable argument again.’

Previous story (AJ 26.08.14)

Mayor says Thames Airport would ‘support more jobs’

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has claimed that a new Estuary Airport would support a third more jobs than Heathrow and more than five times as many jobs as an expanded Gatwick

The new figures, showing the number of jobs which could be supported by the operation of each airport, come a fortnight after Foster + Partners made a final plea to the Davies Commission not to rule out the Thames Estuary airport, despite growing concerns over its feasibility.

In July the commission published four highly critical feasibility studies setting out the huge financial and engineering risks of building a huge new airport east of the capital - Johnson’s preferred solution for the UK’s aviation capacity problems.

However the Mayor, who has today (26 August) announced he is going to stand as an MP, has claimed his own report paints a much rosier picture of his proposals, especially in terms of job creation.

He said: ‘There is no better example of the stark choice between planning for the future and depressing short-termism. A new hub airport, properly planned, has the potential to reshape the economic geography of London and the whole of the southeast for decades to come.

‘It would be a project of a scale we are no longer accustomed to in this country, though it has become commonplace elsewhere. We simply cannot afford to miss out on the opportunities a new airport would give us.’

The report can be downloaded here.

Previous story (10.07.2014)

Estuary Airport is ‘huge financial and environmental risk’

Boris Johnson’s plans to build an airport in the Thames Estuary have suffered a serious blow after a new study concluded it would cause ‘huge environmental financial and safety risks’

The feasibility study for the Airports Commission, which was carried out by Jacobs, claimed the habitat loss from the new airport would cause huge problems for hundreds of thousands of migrating birds and could cost £2billion.

A previous study by Foster + Partners had estimated the cost of habitat relocation at £500million.

The mudflats and marshes of the Thames Estuary are home to a number of migratory bids which nest on both the north and south of the estuary. The area is also home to several sites of special scientific interest.

The report states that moving this number of wildlife is ‘technically possible’ but is on an unprecedented scale for the UK.

The study is one of four which have been compiled for the Airports Commission which aim to look at different aspects of the Thames Estuary airport. The other schemes include social-economic issues, surface access and a study on airline behaviour.

The reports have been commissioned to give a more detailed information on whether the Thames Estuary scheme should be included in the final report Howard Davies presents to the government after the next general election over the options for future airport capacity in the South East.

The Jacob’s research found that even if a replacement habitat could be found, the airport would still be at a ‘high risk’ of a lethal bird strike.

Reacting to the study London Assembly Labour Group Transport Spokesperson, Val Shawcross, said: ‘The idea of a Thames Estuary airport has long been dead in the water, but if a final nail in the coffin was needed, this is surely it.

‘Boris has wasted millions of pounds on this vanity project. With this latest report in mind, he needs to accept that the evidence is now totally against him and that no more public money should be spent pursuing a Thames Estuary airport.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • The Airports Commission has displayed all the imagination and long-term thinking that we have come to expect from British organizations created to make a politcal problem vanish, rather than think about the future of the country and the economy. Sir Howard Davies, who presided over the useless Financial Services Authority, has done London and Londoners a massive disservice. Let's hope that while Borish Johnson and Daniel Moylan are politically active that the Norman Foster estuary airport initiative can still succeed. Paul Finch

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  • Paul Finch refers to a massive disservice to London and Londoners; How about the massive disservice to the rest of the country if Heathrow were to be shut down?
    Johnson, Moylan and Foster seem to think that only London matters, so perhaps it would be best if London were to be 'floated' as a separate city state, Singapore style, leaving the rest of Britain (including Scotland, to my mind) to pursue more balanced physical and economic development strategies.

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