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Thames Estuary Airport decision announced

Airports Commission bins Boris Johnson’s Thames Estuary Airport plans

The Mayor Of London, Boris Johnson, has told the Airports Commission that the decision to scrap plans for a new Thames Estuary Airport means that their work will become increasingly irrelevant, as he cannot conceive any possible scenario where the Government will approve a Heathrow expansion. 

The news broke today that the Airports Commission intends to consult on plans for new runways at London’s two major airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, but will not proceed with consultation on a new four-runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary. This is due, it claims, to the substantial disadvantages that collectively outweigh the projects potential benefits. 

Speaking on the decision the Airports Commission Chair Sir Howard Davies said: “We are not persuaded that a very large airport in the Thames estuary is the right answer to London’s and the UK’s connectivity needs.

“While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London’s.

“There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary. The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount. Even the least ambitious version of the scheme would cost £70 to £90Bn with much greater public expenditure involved than in other options – probably some £30 to £60Bn in total.”

Mayor Boris Johnson has expressed his deep regret at this decision and has expressed disbelief at the idea of the Airports Commission not having one single reason to rule out the estuary airport, and are unable to recommend it simply due to its deer scale and vision. 

A release from the Mayor stated: “In rejecting the possibility of a new airport, the Commission has also turned its back on the rapidly growing population of London. That population desperately needs the homes and jobs that his Estuary proposal offers. The regeneration of east London and the Thames Gateway, entirely in line with current Government policy, would transform the south-east and create 336,000 jobs across the UK, whilst contributing £92 billion annually to UK GDP by 2050, dwarfing both Heathrow and Gatwick. A regenerated site at Heathrow could provide homes for up to 190,000 residents and as many as 90,000 jobs. Without a four runway hub airport it is clear that cities around the UK whose airports have already lost their connection with Heathrow, will fail to get it back as a third runway will be full from day one. Even the Airports Commission’s calculations show that.”

The Mayor also confirmed that the case for a new airport to the east of London will still be fought by his team and that the ongoing debate will be considered with the needs of Londoners at the forefront. 

The Airports Commission will now continue its appraisal of three shortlisted proposals for additional air capacity in the city which is expected to be published in the autumn.