Thames Estuary Airport not the answer says South East LEP
A hub airport in the Thames Estuary is not a solution to the South East’s airport capacity problems in the foreseeable future – according to an independent report received by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership. They say that expanding use of other airports serving the South East (including Stansted, Southend and Manston) could address short term business needs, and also increasing use of Heathrow, Gatwick and London City (which would not be acceptable to local residents there). The LEP report says that due to the effect it would have on Heathrow, a Thames estuary airport is not a feasible solution.
1 July 2012 (BBC)
Thames Estuary airport not solution: South East business report
A Thames estuary airport will not solve short-term air capacity problems in the UK, an independent report has said.
The report, commissioned by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said an estuary airport would be too expensive and would take too long.
It recommended expanding other airports such as Gatwick and Heathrow to meet increasing air travel demands.
The government will begin a consultation later this summer on a document setting out aviation strategy.
‘Business being lost’
LEP chairman John Spence said: “As the country’s economic powerhouse, the South East needs a transport infrastructure that helps business grow and flourish.
“This report shows us that business traffic is already being lost to the UK.
“It confirms the need for new capacity in the long term but the immediate need is for better utilisation of the capacity we have.
“We do not believe that a hub airport in the Thames Estuary is a viable short or medium-term solution.”
He said: “If we start building a longer-term solution on the estuary then in about 10 years’ time we can have an airport, so it’s a better thing for a longer-term solution rather than just a short-term short-sighted solution.”
Mr Liyanage said the need for jobs in the area outweighed the potential environmental damage of building an airport in the estuary.
“There are a lot of young people in the Medway towns who are unemployed, who have got no hope whatsoever for the future, and here is something.
“Within 10 years’ time they will have a new airport, new jobs and a career and a future,” he said.
The report said expanding other airports including Stansted, Southend and Manston could address short-term business needs, and significant potential was available by increasing use of Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports.
‘Use regional airports’
It said a Thames Estuary airport was not feasible because of issues including cost, air space management, the time it would take to build it and the impact it would have on Heathrow.
The LEP will use the report to help shape its response to the forthcoming government consultation.
In its coalition agreement, the government said it would cancel plans for a third runway at Heathrow and refuse permission for additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
Two plans have been put forward for Thames estuary airports – one on an artificial island, known as “Boris Island” because it has been backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson, and another by architect Norman Foster, who has proposed building a £150m airport on the Isle of Grain.
Birmingham Airport recently urged the government to do more to promote regional airports across the country rather than a hub airport in the South East.
In response, a Department for Transport spokesman said: “This summer we will consult on a new aviation policy framework which will set out our overall aviation strategy.
“Alongside this, we will issue a call for evidence on maintaining the UK’s aviation hub status.
“The government’s position on a third runway at Heathrow has not changed.”
Thames Estuary Airport not the answer says South East LEP
A hub airport in the Thames Estuary is not a solution to the South East’s airport capacity problems in the foreseeable future – according to an independent report received by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP).
The report found that:
• expanding utilisation at other airports serving the South East (including Stansted, Southend and Manston) could address short term business needs
• significant potential is available by increasing the Air Transport Movement Cap at Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports [which would not be acceptable to local residents]
• allowing mixed mode operations at Heathrow could provide capacity for up to an additional 20 million passengers a year at the airport [which would be deeply opposed by local residents, and which this government has said it does not support]
However it found that due to a wide range of issues including cost, air space management, the time it would take to build and the impact it would have on the current Heathrow site, a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary is not a feasible solution.
Chairman of the South East LEP, John Spence, said: “As the country’s economic powerhouse the South East needs a transport infrastructure that helps business grow and flourish. This report shows us that business traffic is already being lost to the UK.
“It confirms the need for new capacity in the long term but the immediate need is for better utilisation of the capacity we have. We do not believe that a hub airport in the Thames Estuary is a viable short or medium term solution.
“It is vitally important that the government look at the capacity issues at Heathrow and Gatwick to address the situation now.”
The report was noted at the South East LEP Full Board meeting on Friday 22 June
A summary of the Parsons Brinckhoff report can be found here In developing their report Parsons Brinckhoff spoke to over 110 individuals and organisations including business representatives, airlines, airport owners, and political representatives.
The estimate on the increase of passengers a year at Heathrow is also dependent on increasing the annual air transport movement limit to 540,000 and revising or ending the Cranford agreement limiting the numbers of easterly departures from the northern runway)
The report will help shape SELEP’s response to the government’s consultation into airport capacity nationally due to be launched soon
The South East LEP appointed Parsons Brinckhoff to carry out a significant research study to identify how the airports of the Greater South East can be used more effectively and efficiently and, where possible, grown to accommodate the anticipated increasing demands of air travel. It also considered the issue of the Thames Estuary airport