Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said that a new airport in the Thames Estuary would add £7bn a year to the UK economy and create 400,000 jobs.
Six months after the Airport Commission said it favoured options for a third runway at Heathrow and another for a second runway at Gatwick, Johnson has come back with a final push for a new hub in the Estuary to cope with the growing numbers of travellers into and out of London.
‘The creation of a monstrous Heathrow on a constrained site won’t solve our capacity crisis and would inflict untold misery on hundreds of thousands more Londoners through the din of many more jet engines,’ he said. ‘A new hub in the inner estuary can be built for the same cost as a four-runway Heathrow, and would bring new jobs, homes, and long-term competitiveness.’
The Mayor said that if the commission failed to look to the longer term and continued to focus on what was needed in the short term, it would be letting the country down.
He also said there is a ‘political fix around Gatwick’ which is edging towards giving the UK’s second-busiest airport the go ahead, and that expanding Gatwick is a ‘sham, a snare, a delusion.’
The Airports Commission, led by MT columnist Sir Howard Davies, was set up by the UK Government in September 2012 to look at ways of increasing UK airport capacity.
In December 2013, the committee concluded that Heathrow and Gatwick were the two airports shortlisted to go through to the next round of scrutiny over who gets to build another runway. It said more detail on Johnson’s proposal for the hub on the Isle of Grain in Kent was needed before it could consider the proposal.
At the time, Johnson said the good news was that ‘we’re not dead yet,’ but described Davies’ request for more information as a ‘fudgerama’, saying his own proposal was now ‘half in and half out’.
However Medway and Kent Councils both oppose the Mayor's plans, and yesterday published the results of a survey they commissioned that suggested five out of six adults would oppose the new airport.
Heathrow and Gatwick outlined revised plans for new runways last week. Gatwick’s new runway will allow 10 million more passengers a year to travel, it said, and create 120,000 jobs.
Heathrow’s third runway would create 100,000 jobs, deliver £100bn of economic benefits, and will add 40 new direct routes 'to fast growing economies' like San José, Wuhan and Kolkata.
The Commission is due to make a final recommendation by 2015.