MAYOR of London Boris Johnson has not ruled out building a new airport in north Kent despite telling a council leader that Dartford or Gravesham is not an option.

Mr Johnson's office admits the mayor feels a new airport is needed somewhere to the east of London.

But Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite says Mr Johnson assured him, in a chat during his election campaign, that an airport in the Thames Gateway was not being considered.

When News Shopper asked his office if he had ruled out an airport in north Kent, a spokesman said: "The mayor is opposed to the expansion of Heathrow because of the impact it would have on local people and the environment.

"In considering the alternative options, the mayor believes we need an open mind, and a willingness to consider a range of ideas.

"A new airport in the east of London is something he is prepared to consider whilst bearing in mind the costs, practicalities and local sensitivities to the people of north Kent and elsewhere."

The suggestion of a new airport in north Kent has been opposed by Councillor Kite and an environmental group.

Councillor Kite said: "I love Boris Johnson to bits but we are not part of London. If Boris thinks an airport in the area would work then he is an idiot.

"When I spoke to him during his campaign he assured me north Kent was not an option. Environmentally it doesn't make sense and there is not the infrastructure to support it.

"I would be in favour of the expansion of Heathrow. I have a lot of sympathy for the residents there but the airport has been there a lot longer than many of them.

"They knew what they were getting in to when they moved."

Hilary Newport, the Kent director of charity the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "It is something which we would be concerned about.

"It's better to make use of the air resources which we currently have. An airport, in addition to the industrial works on the river and the car pollution from Dartford Bridge, is certainly not going to help air quality."