Financial News

  • 3 September 2014, 12:30

'Huge Leap In The Dark': Boris Island Rejected

Boris Johnson's proposal for a new four-runway airport to be built in the Thames Estuary has been rejected by the Airports Commission.

The grounding of an airport in Kent leaves three options for expanding airport capacity - two additional runway plans at Heathrow and one at Gatwick.

These are being considered by the Airports Commission, which was established by the Government to recommend the best option for expansion, and will issue its final report after next year's election.

Mr Johnson, who is against a third runway at Heathrow, spoke of his disappointment ahead of the decision, which was widely expected.

The London Mayor 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."

Sir Howard Davies, head of the Airports Commission, told Sky News: "This would be a huge leap in the dark and we simply don't think it's a practical scheme."

He added there were "a lot" of reasons to rule the idea out.

"We think that it is too expensive; we don't believe that a future government would be prepared to spend the public money, between 30bn and 60bn that would be necessary to get even the smaller version of his airport up and running," he said.

"We think that is too risky, the logistical problems of moving an airport 70 miles and of doing so in an environmentally extremely sensitive area are, we think, awe-inspiring and we're not entirely sure in fact it's the right model for London to think of one huge airport in a very diverse market where we think that competing airports produce a better solution."

The Heathrow and Gatwick options had been shortlisted by the commission last year, with Sir Howard announcing that further studies would be made on the estuary plan with a decision towards the end of 2014.

The issue of airports is a thorny one for Mr Johnson, who is trying to become the Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip at the election.

That constituency borders Heathrow and contains many people who depend on it for their livelihood.

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