Boris Island airport dead in water
3.8.2010 (Evening Standard and Telegraph)
Plans for a “Boris island” airport in the Thames estuary were killed off today
as Transport Secretary Philip Hammond rejected the idea.
But London Mayor Boris Johnson said in the Daily Telegraph that it was “utterly ridiculous” to block the expansion of aviation around the capital. Essex MPs had recently backed the plan but Kent MPs had opposed it. Mr Hammond wrote: “I can confirm that the Government has no plans to build any new airports in the region.”
Tracey Crouch, Tory MP for Chatham and Aylesford, said: “He has clearly listened
to the concerns of local people.”
link to article
Boris with a serious case of airport-envy, waxing lyrical, and unrealistic, about
how we are “being left behind” on the airport stakes, compared to Turkey ………
Turkey is taking off, but with Heathrow our wings are clipped
The other night we were filling in time at
Istanbul airport, and I was watching an official dart around on one of those new Segway
gizmos. Have you seen one? They are extraordinary. It was as though his feet had
grown wheels. This way and that he sheepdogged the passengers, twisting and curvetting
and generally running rings round them like some Spanish midfielder.
“What a poser!” I exclaimed. “He’s just showing off. He doesn’t need that thing
at all.” And then he pushed down the stick and he shot off into the distance like
Usain Bolt – and we understood why he was equipped with electric feet.
There is a scene in From Russia With Love when James Bond arrives at what was Yesilkoy airport – with only one terminal,
looking like a small whitewashed suburban bungalow, an inferior version of Biggin
Hill. Those days are gone, my friends. Today’s Ataturk International is colossal.
It is more colossal than an American shopping mall, and that is saying something.
Gleaming marble concourses dwindle into the distance, hedged around by luscious
watch and chocolate shops, and that’s why you need a Segway to get around. As
I watched that Turkish official zooming off through the crowds, I had the perfect
image of the scale, the dynamism and the technological optimism of the Turkish
Owing to some foul-up, we had a day to kill in
Istanbul, and I had a chance to check out the mood of a city I first visited 25 years
ago. We walked through the garment district and saw businesses that were patently
flooded with roubles and Middle-Eastern money. We saw the spanking new hotels
on the Bosporus, the lidos full of beer and bikinis, and we saw how in some parts
of the city the skyscrapers now compete with the minarets to provide the distinctive
image of theIstanbulskyline.
As we took in the symptoms of an economy now coming strongly out of recession
– and growing at 11 per cent – I had an inkling about a modern geopolitical conundrum.
Some of us have been arguing for years that it would be good for
Turkey, and good for Europe, if
Turkey were to join the EU. So it has been slightly dismaying, over the same period,
to see how the Turks themselves have apparently become more apathetic on the question
– if not positively opposed. As we looked around boomingIstanbul, I could kind of see their point.
Why should they submit to the rule of the Eurocrats, when Turkish businesses
and other interests are now starting to gain ground across the
Middle East and in the former Soviet Asian republics? And why should they feel they have
anything to learn from European transport infrastructure, when you compare the
glories of Ataturk International with Heathrow?
You want to know why we had a day in
Istanbul? You want to know why we missed our connection? Because of Heathrow. On the
instrument-groaning roof of one of those overpopulated buildings in west London, some aerial or radar succumbed to the wrong kind of rain and for an hour and
a half no plane could leave. Heathrow was the problem because Heathrow is a doomed
daily attempt to pour a quart into a pint pot and, with our hub international
airport already running at 99 per cent capacity, we need a radical solution.
Every week I meet businessmen who think the Government will in the end be forced
to break its promise, and go ahead with a third runway. And every time I tell
those distinguished businessmen that this Government will not, and cannot, do
any such thing. To build another runway, slap bang in the middle of the west
London suburbs, would be an act of environmental barbarism – hugely increasing airborne
and vehicular congestion, and eroding the quality of life for millions of people.
Nor is high-speed rail anything like the solution, not when pork-barrel politics
will force the trains (if they ever arrive and if the tracks ever get built) to
make so many stops en route to Scotland that you end up with low-speed trains
on high-speed tracks. And, as the Prime Minister and his entourage have just demonstrated,
you cannot conveniently approach India by high-speed rail; and given that 99 per
cent of the population of India have yet to board an aircraft; and given all that
has just been said about the need to increase trade and communications with that
country; and given that there is every reason to think the British demand for
air travel will continue to grow over the next 30 years as it has over the last
30; it is obvious that the current policy of no new runways anywhere in the South
East is utterly ridiculous.
Of course the good people of
Sussex will object to a new runway at Gatwick, and the same points will doubtless be
made against any expansion of Luton, Stansted or any other terrestrial location
in the vicinity of
That is why some people are arguing for a clean, green 24‑hour hub airport that
could be built in the
Thames estuary, far from human habitation, with no more threat to bird life than there
is at Heathrow. I don’t know if they are correct. But we are surely right to look
at it seriously.
Planes are becoming ever cleaner and greener. In 1985 the average passenger aircraft
used eight litres of fuel per passenger per 100km. That is now down to three litres,
and falling, and in the next 20 years we will have vast flying wings, capable
of carrying 1,000 passengers and saving 40 per cent on fuel. Wouldn’t it be utterly
insane if they can land everywhere else in the world except
Look at the potential for growth at Schiphol,
Frankfurt – our immediate economic rivals – all with more runways than Heathrow. And even
if the Government was so mad and bad as to break its word and build a third runway
at Heathrow, that would still not be enough.
Ataturk International already has three runways, and they are planning a fourth.
We cannot, to coin a phrase, go on like this. It is time for vision.
link to Telegraph article