Boris Johnson: Estuary airport to cost taxpayer £30 billion for the road and rail links alone
It has emerged that the cost of road and rail links from his proposed Thames Estuary airport to London would be around £30 billion, over 15 years, and that would have to be paid by UK taxpayers. Boris believes a new estuary airport would cost at least another £50 billion, (other figures are even higher) and that could be financed entirely by the private sector. He also claims Heathrow would not need to close, and could continue as well as another hub. Boris gave a speech at County Hall, to business leaders, Boris attacked the so-called “dither and delay” over formulating its aviation policy, and warned that future generations “would believe the Coalition had ‘frittered away their futures’ by delaying a decision until after the 2015 election. Mr Johnson’s team denied that today’s remarks were intended to steal Mr Cameron’s thunder at the Conservative party conference.However, his airport comments appear to be linked with his positioning himself within the Conservative party. He is also keen on expanding Stansted, as another alternative.
Boris Johnson: Estuary airport to cost taxpayer £30 billion
In a major speech to business leaders, the Mayor accused the Government of “dither and delay” over formulating its aviation policy.
In his strongest attack yet, he warned that future generations would believe the Coalition had “frittered away their futures” by delaying a decision until after the 2015 election.
His speech — in which he suggested the Government was “blind and complacent” — comes days after the Mayor was invited to Chequers by the Prime Minister for a “peace summit”.
Mr Johnson’s team denied that today’s remarks were intended to steal Mr Cameron’s thunder at the Conservative party conference, which starts on Sunday. However, he will risk raising No 10’s hackles by setting out the contents of his draft submission to the Government’s aviation review now.
Mr Johnson told business leaders the Government’s “glacial” progress was “far too slow”, adding: “I am hugely concerned that their intended timetable sets a course for economic catastrophe. This is pressing and every moment we dither and delay, our rivals build their connectivity at our expense. The urgency of the problem has forced me to accelerate the work that I will do to develop a credible solution.”
The Mayor admitted that it was “inevitable” that the bill for road and rail links from his proposed Thames Estuary airport would be picked up by the taxpayer — at a cost of £30 billion over 15 years. He believes a new airport, estimated to cost at least another £50 billion, could be financed entirely by the private sector.
Former Tory transport minister Steve Norris, who backs expansion of Stansted, said: “It’s the first time I’ve heard the Mayor suggest that we might be looking at £30 billion … That, to be clear, is money we’d be expected to provide as taxpayers.”
Boris Johnson renews attack on government over airports
London mayor criticises delay in making decision and says new hub should be developed at Thames estuary or Stansted
Gwyn Topham, transport correspondent (Guardian)
A new 24-hour four-runway hub airport to replace Heathrow should be developed immediately at Stansted or in the Thames estuary, Boris Johnson said on Thursday, as he criticised the government for delaying new runways and revealed that David Cameron had promised him millions to pay for feasibility studies.
The London mayor said the prime minister already had abundant evidence to make a decision on new airport capacity in the south-east, rather than await the verdict of the Howard Davies commission set to report in 2015.
Johnson reiterated his opposition to Heathrow expansion and said the government was “tiptoeing towards a political electric fence” after being “bewitched” by lobbying from the owners BAA.
He said BAA’s plans for a third runway would mean “not only introducing further suffering to hundreds of thousands of Londoners but new suffering to thousands more.
“I say to BAA and BA, forget it. It will not be built. No mayor of London could conceivably accept it.”
Johnson also made clear he saw expansion of Stansted as the only other viable option, although the mayor has been more closely associated with the Thames Estuary proposal.
He said he would co-operate with the Davies commission but refused in any way to be bound by its conclusions. He would continue to make his case “like an aeronautical Bill Cash”, referring to the veteran Tory backbench eurosceptic.
The mayor denied that the choice of date for his speech, coming just before the Conservative party conference, was significant, although the set piece event was apparently hastily arranged.
Johnson claimed that Heathrow could still have a viable future as a secondary airport, even if it was not the national hub, as a centre for direct freight and business travel.
However, BAA’s director of corporate affairs, Claire Harbord, said: “There can only be one hub. The business model at Heathrow is that it is a hub. And whatever the eventual outcome, you need to protect the hub in the meantime because our competitors are eating our lunch.”
Former transport secretary Steve Norris, a proponent of the Stansted option, warned that the only way to get major airlines to move to a new hub airport would be to close Heathrow. “You’ve got to say you’ll shut Heathrow. And that causes just as many problems as extra runways.”
The mayor is believed to have secured his funding for feasibility studies into his preferred options while dining with Cameron at Chequers last weekend. His top adviser, Daniel Moylan, said that Cameron had personally pledged that London would not carry the costs of examining options for a new airport, although Johnson had earmarked £3m from Transport for London for the task.
However, Moylan reiterated that the government should not wait for the Davies commission verdict and should make a decision well before the 2015 election.
He said: “It’s strange that the government should decide how long the work should take before they know what the workload is.”
He [Boris] 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.
‘I will continue to work with the Government and the Davies Commission, but 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.’
Mr Johnson said the scale of the location required for a new hub airport with at least four runways meant sites, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Luton, had to be ruled out.
A new 180 million passenger a year hub airport would cost £75 billion to £80 billion.
While Mr Johnson has flatly denied wanting to replace Mr Cameron, his increasingly frequent outbursts have caused a headache for Number 10.