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18 January 2011, 07:30
The leader of Medway Council in Kent has called on the Mayor of London to shelve once and for all his plan for a Thames Estuary airport and stop ‘wasting public money’ on his doomed project.
This is the council statement
The mayor has campaigned for more than two years for a new £40billion hub airport on a man-made island off the Kent and Essex coast.
But his scheme has been repeatedly rejected by the government, and the aviation industry.
Now the mayor is today (Tuesday, 18 January) holding a seminar to discuss the economic need for increased airport capacity and a new hub airport for south-east England.
Rodney Chambers, the leader of Medway Council in Kent, said: “I believe it is time that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, realises that his pie in the sky Thames Estuary airport plan will never get off the ground.
“It has already been rejected by the government and the aviation industry – with nine out of ten air carriers saying they oppose the scheme.
“Yet, despite this, the mayor seems intent on carrying on regardless, wasting public money to try and get support for his project.
“This morning he is doing this again, holding a seminar to discuss the need for increased aviation capacity and a new hub airport for London and the south east.
“I was invited to this seminar, but decided not to go, although I have already informed Daniel Moylan, the deputy chair of Transport for London, of our view when he was dispatched to my office by the mayor to try and cut a deal over their airport plan.
“In this meeting, which was just before Christmas, I told Mr Moylan that I agree with the government’s view that we should fully use the capacity already available at existing UK airports – linked by high speed rail lines – rather than waste billions of pounds building a new one.
“Despite me informing Mr Moylan of this, he then asked me in this meeting if we in Medway would agree to an airport in the estuary if all the infrastructure for it, such as new train lines, roads etc., was based in Essex and not Kent.
“I responded that we in Medway can’t comment on what should or should not happen in Essex and reaffirmed the opinion of all at Medway Council and the vast majority of people in Kent, that the mayor’s island airport scheme is unnecessary, unworkable and unaffordable.”
Medway Council and Kent County Council argue that an estuary airport would turn parts of Medway and Kent into a concrete jungle and disrupt the environment off the Hoo Pensinsula where the island airport would be built – a place with Sites of Special Scientific Interest and internationally important areas used by hundreds of thousands of migrating birds.
The campaign argues that instead of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary the capacity of existing airports, where the infrastructure is already in place, should be fully used.
For instance, Manston Airport, in Kent, has one of the longest runways in Europe and already has a high-speed rail link while Birmingham International Airport has previously said it could double its capacity, allowing an extra nine million passengers to fly from it annually.