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New Thames Estuary airport plan puts 'Boris Island' on the back-burner
A computer generated image of how a new airport in the Isle of Grain could look (image by Foster and Partners).
BORIS Johnson’s pet project to build a £50 billion floating airport in the Thames Estuary may be on the back-burner - but his latest proposal is proving just as unpopular.
The mayor of London previously backed plans for 'Boris Island' in the outer estuary to the east of Gravesend, but has now turned his attentions to the Isle of Grain.
It is one of three proposals - whittled down from 16 - presented by Mr Johnson to the Airports Commission which will by 2015 decide how to increase the UK's airport capacity.
But Dartford's MP Gareth Johnson remains dead against any airport in north-west Kent, instead favouring a third runway at Heathrow.
He said: "I am pleased to see Heathrow has submitted a number of plans for a new runway to the Airports Commission.
"This is the simplest and quickest way to increase airport capacity in the south, and I fully support this option.
"It would take far less time and money to build than an entirely new airport hub in north west Kent, which is Boris Johnson’s preferred option.
"It also has the advantage of already having the necessary infrastructure links in place to transport large volumes of passengers to London and beyond."
How a new railway link to London could look.
The Isle of Grain proposal would see four runways built on farming and partially reclaimed land in the north east corner of the Hoo Peninsula and would provide "thousands of jobs and growth across London, Essex and Kent", according to a consultation document released by the Mayor.
Crossrail would be extended from Abbey Wood through Erith, Dartford and Ebbsfleet while a new high-speed rail line would transport passengers from central London to the airport in less than half an hour.
The outer Thames estuary plans are still an option requiring a man-made island to be built two miles north of the Isle of Sheppey to accommodate the four runways.
It would be served by similar rail links to the Isle of Grain airport and would also be compatible with plans to build a new lower Thames crossing, according to the mayor.
Option three is to build a whole new airport at Stansted. All three plans would cost around £20 billion to build by 2029, another £10 billion to expand to cope with new demand by 2050 and £20 billion in transport infrastructure improvements.
They would be hub airports meaning they could accommodate large numbers of transfer passengers as a more efficient way of connecting different destinations.
The new airport would be in the north east corner of the Hoo Peninsula.
Gravesham MP Adam Holloway says the Airport Commission would do better to look at expanding London’s existing airports.
He said: “It’s clear to me we have already got quite a few London airports with perfectly good infrastructure. They should be building more runways there.
“No one has properly looked at what a new Thames Estuary airport would actually mean for people living in the north Kent area.
“I find it unbelievable that we take so long to take decisions about anything.”
Protect Kent campaigns manager Andrew Ogden says the charity is opposed to any new hub airport in the UK – let alone one in the Thames Estuary.
He told News Shopper: “The impact of the Isle of Grain plan would be devastating not only on the industries there but also on nearby conservation areas.
“The aviation industry is saying they need new capacity within the next 10 years but a Thames Estuary airport wouldn’t be ready for nearly 20.
“There are so many obstacles to overcome and it just hasn’t been thought through.”
What the station would look like at the Isle of Grain airport.
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price slammed the mayor’s plans. She said: "As I have told Boris before, the Thames is for ships not planes.
"An estuary airport would disrupt the shipping lanes and cost jobs in Thurrock.
"I am a firm believer in Heathrow expansion. The infrastructure is there to support it already."
The Airports Commission will produce an interim report in December and a final report by summer 2015. You can submit your views by visiting gov.uk/government
New airport by numbers
- Heathrow’s two runways are currently in use 98.5 per cent of the time meaning new capacity is needed.
- A new hub airport would handle 90 million passengers a year by 2029 and 180 million by 2050.
- The mayor claims it would create up to 134,000 jobs in the surrounding area by 2050 and support 375,000 across the UK, boosting the economy by £742 billion.
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