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London's airport debate: Cable snubs Heathrow as Gensler reveals new estuary plans


Business Secretary Vince Cable has pledged that an expansion of Heathrow is ‘not going to happen’ as polls show that support for an estuary airport is growing

Cable was talking to the BBC yesterday following the news that the government had commissioned an independent review into how to increase the UK’s aviation capacity which would look at ‘alternatives’ to a third runway at Heathrow, west London.

Meanwhile, according to the Sunday Times, London Mayor Boris Johnson has begun a ‘rival consultation’ on plans to build a huge new airport east of the capital in the Thames estuary.

Johnson has been critical of Cameron’s supposed dithering over airport capacity plans and warned that the departure of Justine Greening as transport secretary in the recent cabinet reshuffle showed the government was still ‘intent on the simply mad policy’ of a new runway at Heathrow.

A YouGov poll carried out by the Sunday Times revealed that the public supported a four runway airport hub in the estuary, with 44 percent of Londoners favouring a new airport in the estuary area over a third runway at Heathrow (24 per cent).

The result will be welcomed by Foster & Partners. which unveiled its vision for a £50 billion transport hub on reclaimed land in the estuary last November (AJ 02.11.2011).

The poll will also delight global giant Gensler which last week released images of its own, rival floating airport scheme for the Thames.

Linked to the land ‘through a combination of rail, ferry and jetfoil’, Gensler’s proposed London Britannia Airport would allow up to six runways, ‘floated in as required and taken away for maintenance’.

According to Gensler ‘to minimise environmental disruption the runways [will be] tethered to the sea bed and to the final departure concourse which provides access to the marine rail tunnels that connect directly to central London and the European High Speed Rail Networks’.

The radical scheme would see Heathrow become a new eco-city and ‘the largest urban expansion project in Europe’ housing around 300,000.

Ian Mulcahey, project director, said: ‘This will be a “national” infrastructure project that can inject new pace and dynamism into our economy. The airport can be quickly manufactured in the ship yards and steel works across the UK and can be floated by sea and positioned in the Estuary.

‘This isn’t a London Airport it is a Global Airport, designed, manufactured and built in the UK.’



Readers' comments (2)

  • Another crazy idea for the Kent people to live with, Stansted one of the nicer airports is running at less than 50 per cent capacity and Manston at even less, with the advantage its near to the channel ports and fast rail link to London. and the added capacity could be up and running today not in 10/15 years time.

    Don't put all your eggs in one basket, what about the fog and bird strikes, you'd get in the estuary.

    The SS Montgomery is a real problem, again I feel sorry for the people of Kent, because why is it OK to make the wreck safe for an airport but not for the people in Kent, don’t they matter?
    See:- Facebook SS Richard Montgomery (the wreck)

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  • chris Dyson

    The estuary airport is a greta idea for kent and the thames estuary development it will create many jobs and provide for unhindered growth in the future.
    Great Britain needs projects like this to maintain its position in the global economy. This government needs to make big decisions and stop dithering.

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