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NORTH KENT: Boris Johnson tests water for Thames Estuary airport plan
Boris Johnson has stoked the debate over plans to expand Heathrow by sailing into the Thames Estuary in search of a possible site for a new airport.
The Mayor of London was accompanied by a team of engineers aboard a 400ft dredger on Friday as he tested the waters for the proposal to build an airport on an artificial island in the estuary.
Mr Johnson hopes the proposal could be a viable alternative to the Government's controversial plans to build a third runway at Heathrow.
He said: "(The) trip has reaffirmed in my mind that a new airport in the Thames Estuary has got to be factored in as an option for London's long-term aviation needs."
But members of Kent County Council criticised the plans. Leader of the council Paul Carter said: "Environmentally and ecologically it's a very bad idea to build an airport off one of the most beautiful coastlines in the South East.
"To say it will be an eyesore is the understatement of the year. It would be totally horrendous.
"I know all the residents will be absolutely furious about this. The council will meet on Monday morning and we will look at all the weapons that are at out disposal to fight this proposal."
Joining the mayor on his recce of the estuary was Nick Raynsford MP, chairman of a new cross-party parliamentary group on the proposal for an airport in the estuary.
He said: "I have always believed that the estuary was a potential site for London's main airport and Friday's visit has reinforced that view.
"This will give the prospect of meeting airport capacity for south-east England in the most environmentally responsible way."