"Only hub left in the race" Heathrow looks to rally Mayor's support

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow bids seek backing of Mayor, furious at shattering of island airport dream. 

Reaction from across the industry to the Davies Commission's decision to rule out an Inner Thames Estuary Airport option

London Mayor Boris Johnson who had been heavily promoting the idea of an estuary airport was furious at the Airport Commission’s decision to reject his favoured project.  "In one myopic stroke the 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," he said.

"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."

Heathrow however hoped that when the dust had settled, Johnson would back its proposals. 

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “We have always agreed with the Mayor that Britain needs a successful hub airport to compete in the global race for jobs and growth . Heathrow is now the only hub left in the race. We would like to work with the Mayor to deliver Heathrow expansion in a way that benefits the whole country while reducing noise impacts for local people compared to today.”

Jock Lowe, the longest serving Concorde pilot and one of the promoters of the Heathrow Hub runway extension scheme said: “I hope that our proposal is just the sort of creative idea which should appeal to Mr Johnson. We can deliver the new airport capacity required cost effectively. And by extending the existing runway we bring no new communities in West London into the noise footprint, so ours is now the most politically realistic plan still being considered by Airports Commission. We respectfully ask Mr Johnson to get behind Heathrow Hub in delivering this important project for London and for the nation.”

Richard Threlfall, KPMG partner and head of UK infrastructure, building and construction believed that the estuary option would be back on the table in the future. "I am disappointed the Davies Commission has decided to drop the estuary option. I believe the estuary airport offers a visionary long-term solution to the south-east airport capacity challenge. It also creates the opportunity to rebalance the economy of London by stimulating growth in the east whilst opening up a huge new area for development in the West, on the site at Heathrow.

"It was always a radical solution that would require exceptionally strong political leadership, and ultimately, Boris aside, it appears to have failed to secure the level of support it needed. Whilst both Heathrow and Gatwick have now generated plans to add to our airport capacity over the next few decades, I suspect in due course we will be regretting the decision to shelve the estuary airport plans and looking to reopen them yet again.”

Lord Foster and Foster & Partners  worked with Boris Johnson on the estuary proposals.

Lord Foster said: “I predict that Londoners will be scathing in their condemnation of today’s announcement, when confronted with the inevitability of the blighting influence of Heathrow - the risks, noise and environmental impact of overflying London - and its inability to cope with predicted growth. They will ask why there was not even the courage to further explore – to study – to research - a strategic long term alternative to the instant gratification of a sadly predictable compromise. Adding a third runway at Heathrow is merely a short term fix - it will inevitably lead to a fourth runway in order to maintain international hub status.

By contrast, a new national airport in the Thames Estuary is a true design for the future, especially when linked into existing and new high speed train networks. It can be achieved more quickly and, based on independent analysis, there would not be a substantial cost difference between a fresh start at Thames Hub compared to a stop-gap solution at Heathrow.

Elsewhere in the world, relocating an airport that no longer serves its purpose is considered normal practice. France did it twice in a matter of decades. In Hong Kong we created a man-made island the size of Heathrow and built what was then the largest airport in the world – all in the space of six years. The pattern of the most competitive emerging economies is to replace the old and obsolescent and go boldly forward with the new, an opportunity today's decision denies this country. The outcome of this process calls into question the validity of the commission.”


Public must demand new runways or nothing will happen says business group London First's Let Britain Fly campaign.

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