Just one in six British adults (16%) would support the building of an Estuary Airport in the Thames at the expense of closing existing facilities at Heathrow, City and Southend according to new research.
A public opinion survey, carried out by ComRes and commissioned by Medway Council asked more than 2,000 British adults if they supported plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
Just over a third (38%) say that they would support an estuary airport. However, this figure plummets to just 16% when people are told that existing major facilities would have to close as a result.
Plans submitted by Mayor of London Boris Johnson to the Airports Commission include an option to site a four runway £148bn development in the Thames Estuary.
The London mayor believes that alternatives need to be found in order for the UK to maintain its place in an increasingly competitive global aviation market place.
Cllr Rodney Chambers, Leader of Medway Council which with Kent County Council and the RSPB has consistently opposed plans for an estuary airport, said: “No one disputes the need to invest more in aviation in order to ensure the UK keeps pace with demand and matches competition from abroad.
“However, we strongly believe that plans to site a hub airport in the Thames Estuary is financially, geographically and environmentally wrong.
“It will waste tens of billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money for a project which is on the wrong side of London for the majority of passengers.
“This survey highlights the chronic lack of public support for the project. Most people will not back a scheme which closes other key airports including Heathrow and City and Southend Airports and it’s time we explore other, more sensible options.
“This should include how Stansted can be upgraded alongside improvements at the network of excellent regional airports which serve the UK and are not being used to their full capacity.”
The public polling also revealed a lack of support for additional travel and ticket fare increases as a result of the infrastructure costs required to fund a new hub airport.
Nearly half (49%) said it was not acceptable to increase airline ticket costs in order to fund a new airport.
Respondents also said that, on average, the maximum time they would be prepared to travel from Central London to an airport near London would be just under an hour (59 minutes).
Cllr Chambers added: “The mayor’s vision for a new hub airport in the Thames estuary is misguided on several levels. Not only are the economics wrong but it would lead to a huge population shift with the need for a new city the size of Manchester being built.
“The fact that anyone would seek to do this on an area of global scientific and environmental significance, which is home to 300,000 migrating wildfowl, simply beggars belief.”
Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, said: “The estuary airport is simply in the wrong place and on the wrong side of London. It is in a place that is difficult to access, would require billions of pounds thrown at it, is particularly prone to bad weather, high winds and fog, and also on one of the most significant bird migratory paths in the country. Birds and aeroplanes are not a good mix.”
• ComRes interviewed 2,034 GB adults online between 4th and 6th April 2014. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults aged 18+.
• ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules (www.britishpollingcouncil.org). This commits ComRes to the highest standards of transparency.
• Data tables are available on the ComRes website – www.comres.co.uk