Isle Of Grain: Airport Plans Rejected

Plans for a new four-runway airport on the Isle of Grain, championed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, have been rejected by the Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies.

Officials, who are charged with recommending where airport expansion should come, had been deciding whether to add the proposals to their shortlist for further consideration. The rejection leaves three options - two additional runway plans at Heathrow and one at Gatwick - still on the table.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has spoken of his disappointment that the plans were not taken forward. He said: "In one myopic stroke the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century and consigned their work to the long list of vertically filed reports on aviation expansion that are gathering dust on a shelf in Whitehall.''

"Gatwick is not a long term solution and Howard Davies must explain to the people of London how he can possibly envisage that an expansion of Heathrow, which would create unbelievable levels of noise, blight and pollution, is a better idea than a new airport to the east of London that he himself admits is visionary, and which would create the jobs and growth this country needs to remain competitive.

"It remains the only credible solution, any process that fails to include it renders itself pretty much irrelevant, and I'm absolutely certain that it is the option that will eventually be chosen.''

Headed by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, the commission is due to make its final report to ministers in summer 2015 - after the general election.

For many, the favourite option is expansion at Heathrow - an idea that has been totally rejected by Mr Johnson.

The added complication for Mr Johnson is that he is now seeking the Tory 2015 general election candidacy at Uxbridge and South Ruislip - a constituency that borders on Heathrow and which contains many people who depend on the west London airport for their livelihood.

Last December the commission shortlisted the Heathrow and Gatwick options and said it would look further at the estuary option while admitting that it was extremely expensive.

Since then the commission has published reports showing the possible environment cost of the estuary plan.

These are the shortlisted options:

:: Gatwick Airport: At this site the commission's analysis will be based on a new runway over 3,000 metres in length spaced sufficiently south of the existing runway to permit fully independent operation.

:: A new 3,500-metre runway constructed to the north west of the existing airport proposed by Heathrow Airport Ltd.

:: An extension of the existing northern runway to the west of Heathrow proposed by Heathrow Hub Ltd, consortium including former Concorde pilot Jock Lowe. This scheme would see the runway lengthened to at least 6,000 metres, enabling it to be operated as two separate runways: one for departures and one for arrivals.

Cllr Rodney Chambers MBE, Leader of Medway Council which has been campaigning against proposals for an airport in the Thames Estuary welcomed the decision. He said: "We have said all along that it should never have even been considered.

"The cost to the taxpayer was never fully explained and it would have resulted in the mass destruction of habitat and wildlife that could never be replaced.

"We have known from the start that this plan was wrong but still had to fight until the end to ensure it never got off the ground.

"This has never been about ‘nimbyism’; this has been about fighting for what is right for Medway and the environment."