Kent: Boris Johnson Outlines Airport Plans

15 July 2013, 13:21

Boris Johnson has outlined three options for expanding airport capacity in South East England, including two possible sites in Kent.

In a speech, the London Mayor put forward his own idea for an international hub airport on an artificial island in the Thames Estuary. But he also said that a new, four-runway airport on the Isle of Grain on the Hoo Peninsula - a plan already outlined by architect Lord Foster - should be considered.

And Mr Johnson's third proposal for a four-runway hub would be at Stansted in Essex, where the existing airport would be expanded.

Mr Johnson's plans, which rule out expansion at Heathrow airport, will be submitted later this week to the Government-appointed Airport Commission headed by Sir Howard Davies.

Mr Johnson said that a new hub airport would be able to support more than 375,000 new jobs by 2050 and add #742 billion to the value of goods and services produced in the UK.

He said a new hub airport could be delivered by 2029, with a hybrid bill being passed by parliament to secure approval for the airport, the surface access and the acquisition of Heathrow.

The benefits of each of the three airport options were listed:

::  THE ISLE OF GRAIN - The inner estuary site is close enough to London to provide smooth and fast access by public transport, yet ideally located so as to allow take-off and landing over water and so impact on as small a population as possible.

It sits in an area with a strong industrial history, and is across the water from the new DP World London Gateway Port. A new hub airport there would lay the foundation for a future logistics heartland of the UK.

:: AN OUTER ESTUARY SITE -  An airport on an artificial island off the Kent coast would remove all problems of noise pollution and give the airport the freedom to operate in whatever way it needed in order to maximise the UK's connectivity and economic benefits.

:: STANSTED - Developing a major four-runway airport at Stansted would have the attraction of building on existing infrastructure and being sited in a relatively sparsely populated region, Stansted has none of the environmental or wildlife issues that would need to be overcome in the estuary.

Talking about the future of the Heathrow area should a new airport be sited elsewhere, Mr Johnson said that part of west London, with good transport links, had the the space and infrastructure to generate up to 100,000 new homes that London badly needed.

There was the potential to attract tens of thousands of jobs in a number of different sectors and while some workers at Heathrow would relocate to the new airport, many others would find work in a newly-developed Heathrow area.

Mr Johnson said: "Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us and putting themselves in a position to eat London's breakfast, lunch and dinner by constructing mega airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of.

"Those cities have moved heaven and earth to locate their airports away from their major centres of population, in areas where they have been able to build airports with four runways or more. ''

He went on: "For London and the wider UK to remain competitive we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth. Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow, which already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, is quite simply crackers.''

Mr Johnson's chief adviser on aviation, Daniel Moylan, said: "Heathrow can never solve our problems and our studies show that we're better off with a new site.

"The immense noise, pollution and congestion that would result from expanding an airport located in the heart of our suburbs would potentially devastate the greatest city in the world. ''


Medway Council gave this response:

Cllr Rodney Chambers, Leader of Medway Council, said: "For five years now, Boris has failed to listen to the huge number of people who have said that placing an airport in North Kent, on or near the Thames Estuary, is a complete non-starter.  Many airline industry leaders, local and national politicians and others have put forward this view.

"We will continue to work with Kent County, Council, the RSPB and many others to drive through the message why North Kent and the Thames Estuary is totally unsuitable for a huge hub airport.

"There are no roads or rail lines there to support an airport that would carry up to 150m passengers a year, and putting these in place would cost the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds - a needless waste of money, especially when you consider it would be on the wrong side of London for most.

"A new airport on the scale the mayor wants to force on North Kent would lead to the closure of Heathrow and devastate the west London economy. It would also lead to a huge population shift to this local area as it would need up to 100,000 people to work in it. This would lead to the need for a new city the size of Manchester being built.

"The fact that anyone would seek to do this on an area of global scientific and environmental significance, which is home to 300,000 migrating wildfowl, simply beggars belief.

"It would make a lot more sense to look at the air infrastructure already in place - London already has five airports and there are others nearby - and use the very much underused capacity at these while linking them by high speed rail. That would certainly seem a more sensible option than concentrating on airport vanity projects like the dead in the water Boris Island or Lord Foster's Isle of Grain fantasy creation."
Medway Council has run a campaign jointly with Kent County Council and the RSPB against a Thames Estuary airprot since 2009. For more details please go to
Prior to this, the three worked together to stop plans by the previous government to build a new international airport at Cliffe on the Hoo Pensinsula in 2002.