Autumn Statement: Foster welcomes government commitment on aviation capacity
Norman Foster has welcomed the government’s ‘very encouraging’ announcement it will investigate ways to expand airport capacity
Delivering his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons today (29 November), chancellor George Osborne said the government would ‘explore all the options for maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status, with the exception of a third runway at Heathrow’.
Earlier this month, Foster and Partners with Halcrow revealed self-funded plans for a new airport on the Isle of Grain which could feature four runways, cost £50 billion and operate 24 hours a day.
In a statement Foster said he welcomed the government’s decision to consider airport capacity as part of the National Infrastructure Plan and described the economic case for a Thames Hub as ‘compelling’
Foster said: ‘The Thames Hub and proposed new airport project is part of a wider UK-wide initiative to bring together rail, freight logistics, aviation, energy generation and transmission, flood protection and regional development. Recognising the synergies between these different strands, it reaps the benefits of their integration.
‘This is an opportunity to reassert Britain’s role as a global hub and an international gateway. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement today is very encouraging and a step closer to achieving this goal.’
Halcrow director, David Kerr, added: ‘Over the last few weeks we have met a large number of public and private sector stakeholders, across a range of infrastructure sectors, and have received widespread support and enthusiasm for the Thames Hub proposals.
‘Initial discussions with investors have shown that there is interest in supporting the project through its planning, design, construction, and operation and maintenance phases. With an appropriate political and planning framework, this is a project that can be delivered.’
Alternative options exists in a so-called ‘Boris Island’ scheme for land nearby and Terry Farrell’s proposed rail hub linking existing airports in West London.
Watch a video of Norman Foster talking about the future of UK’s infrastructure here.
‘Imagine how differently we might understand the modern world if we could travel back in time. We would discover that the cathedrals, the castles and the viaducts that form our ‘heritage’ were once new themselves and were seen as quite alien at the time; and that many of the landscapes we revere as ‘natural’ were in fact shaped subtly by man — some the outcome of the Industrial Revolution itself. We would also find that many of the challenges we face now have been met before.
‘Given the need to upgrade Britain’s infrastructure for the 21st century, and in the absence of a time machine, we have to try to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th century forebears and to revive our traditions of architecture, engineering and landscape design. We have to draw lessons from our heritage, as well as inspiration from our Asian counterparts.’