Boris Johnson Angry Over Airport Expansion
Boris Johnson has accused the Government of setting Britain on course for "economic catastrophe" by ducking decisions on airport expansion.
The Mayor of London, in a speech to business leaders in London, claimed the coalition was paying "lamentable attention" to the need for more capacity.
Mr Johnson insisted a third runway at Heathrow was not a solution and that a four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary or possibly at Stansted was required.
He stopped short of explicitly attacking Prime Minister David Cameron but called the Government "blind" and "complacent" for moving at a "glacial pace".
His address comes days after he and Mr Cameron held what has been dubbed a "peace summit" to clear the air after weeks of tension.
The two men met in private last weekend ahead of the Tory party conference in Birmingham, which starts this Sunday.
But Mr Johnson is still angry that ministers have put off making a decision about airport expansion until after the next election.
Former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies has been asked to lead an independent commission but will not report until summer 2015.
The Mayor said: "The Government programme to address the looming aviation capacity crunch in the UK is far too slow and I am hugely concerned that their intended timetable sets a course for economic catastrophe.
"This continued inertia is being fully exploited by our European rivals who already possess mega hub airports that they intend to use to erode our advantage."
He vowed to work with the Government but also warned that he would continue to develop his own plans, ensuring he will remain a thorn in Mr Cameron's side on the issue.
"The urgency of the situation and the lamentable attention that the Government has paid to this pressing issue has forced me to accelerate the work that I will do to develop a credible solution," he said.
Mr Johnson estimated the total cost of a new hub airport serving 180 million passengers a year at between £75 and £80bn.
Under the right conditions, this could be delivered with private finance and operated as a commercially viable business, he added.
He also pointed out that the earliest a third runway could be completed at Heathrow would be around 2026-28 - only two to four years quicker than a totally new airport.
Going ahead with Heathrow expansion would be "an environmental and political disaster which would be obsolete as soon as it was completed", he said.