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Lord Foster’s Thames Estuary airport plan ‘pie-in-the-sky’ too close to oil terminal and devastating to wildlife

Foster’s plan for a 4-runway airport in the Thames Estuary has been branded as
a “daft pie-in-the-sky” scheme. Medway council say building it near existing gas
terminals was a “potentially lethal mix”. Nearby is one of the world’s largest
liquefied natural gas terminals. Medway council say the Isle of Grain was  one
of the worst places anyone could build a new airport. Friends of the Earth said
building the airport would have a “devastating impact” on wildlife.


2.11.2011 (BBC)

Lord Foster’s Thames Estuary airport plan ‘pie-in-the-sky’

Impression of Thames Hub from the east
The Thames Hub would be built partly on reclaimed land, with aircraft approaching
over water
 

Related BBC Stories

A plan for a four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary has been branded a “daft
pie-in-the-sky” scheme.

The airport, which could be capable of handling 150m passengers a year, has been
outlined by architect Lord Foster for the Isle of Grain in Kent.

The scheme, costing at least £50bn, would be built on partially reclaimed land
and have high-speed rail links.

However, Medway Council said building it near existing gas terminals was a “potentially
lethal mix”.

In outlining the plan, Lord Foster said Britain needed a modern transport infrastructure.

The project, a rival to London Mayor Boris Johnson’s own plan for a Thames Estuary
airport, comes after a £100,000 study carried out by Lord Foster’s firm and infrastructure
consultants Halcrow.

“We need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th Century
forebears if we are to establish a modern transport and energy infrastructure
in Britain for this century and beyond,” he said.

“The aviation industry has been selling our environment down the river for far
too long”

          Paul da Zylva Friends of the Earth

“Britain can no longer trade on its inadequate and aged infrastructure.”

The architect’s previous projects include Honk Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport, which
was also built on reclaimed land.

Each of the four runways would be 2.5 miles (4km) long, with planes approaching
from the north east over water.

A railway station would be built under the airport.

The plan also includes a new Thames barrier to offer flood protection and generate
carbon-free energy from the tide.

The scheme’s unveiling comes a year after Prime Minister David Cameron told the
House of Commons the government had ruled out a major airport in the estuary.

Medway Council denounced the Isle of Grain as one of the worst places anyone
could build a new airport.

Lord Foster told the BBC’s Louise Stewart the airport would be a good investment

“The plan to build an airport on the Isle of Grain is, quite possibly, the daftest
in a long list of pie-in-the-sky schemes,” said leader Rodney Chambers.

“The Isle of Grain is home to one of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas
terminals.

“It is obvious that aircraft and huge gas containers are a potentially lethal
mix.

“In addition to this, the sunken American warship the SS Richard Montgomery is
submerged just a few miles from the location and laden with high explosives, the
London Array wind farm is being built nearby and the airport cuts through an area
that is home to hundreds of thousands of migrating birds.”

Friends of the Earth said building the airport would have a “devastating impact”
on wildlife.

Spokesman Paul de Zylva said: “[This would be] all for overhyped promises of
economic benefits that have been proven to be false.

“The aviation industry has been selling our environment down the river for far
too long – ministers must say ‘no’ to airport expansion and the climate devastation
it would bring.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-15556203

 

see also
 

Thames Estuary and Marshes SPA – one of the top 5 UK sites for wintering or migrating
birds

The salt marshes on the Peninsula are part of the Thames Estuary and Marshes
Special Protection Area, designated for its internationally important populations
of wintering birds. The site regularly supports some 33,000 wintering waterfowl,
of which avocets and ringed plovers occur in internationally important numbers.
In summer, there are important breeding populations of avocets, marsh harriers,
Mediterranean gulls and little terns.   Click here to view full story…

 
 
 
 
 
see also an article supportive of Lord Foster’s project in the

Guardian  2.11.2011

Lord Foster reveals £50bn Thames Hub project

Ambitious Thames estuary plan to include international airport, railway and housing
with new freight and energy infrastructure

Foster and Partners artist impression of the Thames Hub, a four-runway Thames
estuary airport with new railway, energy and communications infrastructure. Photograph:
Foster And Partners/PA

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will
not themselves be realised.” These famous words are attributed to Daniel Burnham,
the ebullient American architect and planner who reshaped Chicago, extended Washington
DC and championed the City Beautiful movement of the late 19th century.

On Wednesday Lord Foster announced a plan so big that even Burnham would have
been impressed. The Thames Hub, a £50bn project devised by architects Foster and
Partners, planners and builders Halcrow and Volterra, a consultancy group of British
economists, aims to revolutionise Britain’s often creaking and largely inadequate
national transport and
energy infrastructure.

From a proposed new Thames Hub, comprising an international airport, railway
terminus, freight depot and port along with a new Thames Barrier sited all together
in the Thames estuary, a new four-track high-speed orbital passenger and freight
railway would run around the north of
London before joining main lines to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Hull,
Felixstowe, Cardiff and Southampton.

Aiming to take thousand of container lorries off the roads, this radically enhanced
national transport “spine” would also carry power lines and communications cables,
cutting down on the need for new pylons. Built to a continental loading gauge,
the railways would connect directly with high-speed passenger and freight lines
in the rest of Europe.

New homes, hi-tech factories and other workplaces would be built around existing
and new railway lines with tens of thousands of new homes connected directly to
an ultra-modern transport network. Most new homes in Britain are currently scattered
on the fringe of old towns and across the green belt with little consideration
for transport and other infrastructure.

“We need to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th-century
forebears, ” said Foster on Wednesday, “if we are to establish a modern transport
and energy infrastructure in Britain for this century and beyond.”

The Thames Hub and the “spine” are bold plans indeed. “They’re born out of necessity,
enthusiasm and frustration,” says Foster. “In Hong Kong, a decade ago, we were
able to build a major new international airport and all the associated infrastructure
including a new island reclaimed from the sea within four years. If Britain wants
to compete with rapidly developing global economies, it must sort out its infrastructure
and, if this is holistically planned with real political commitment it can also
be a thing of beauty and environmentally friendly.”

“I know it’s against the national grain to come up with big plans and we’ll be
accused of playing Napoleon, but we have to get the debate going and show what
a difference a radical new infrastructure plan could make to Britain.”

“Infrastructure is the key”, says David Kerr, group board director of Halcrow.
“Britain ignores development and investment in infrastructure at its peril. Look
around the world and you see the way in which China and Latin America are investing
heavily in infrastructure. They see it as a passport to strong economic development.”

Bridget Rosewell of Volterra says that, if implemented, the Thames Hub plan would
generate £150bn in financial benefits alone. It has also been planned to save
the green belt from rapacious commercial development, to generate hydroelectric
power from the tidal Thames and to beautify transport corridors around London
and along the country’s main traffic arteries.

“If it went ahead, even in part,” says Foster, “the very realisation of the plan
would create thousands of skilled jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction
alone.”

Although Britain has rarely been a country of grand plans, these have existed.
The building of the railways, sewers, National Grid, motorways and water supplies
are all examples of how Britain has made it in the past. Huge infrastructure projects
like the city of Birmingham’s water supply from the Elan Valley, completed in
the early 20th century, prove how such works can be breathtakingly beautiful as
well as discreet and highly effective. They can also be highly controversial,
politically sensitive and hugely expensive.

“The cost of not doing anything will ultimately be much higher,” says Foster,
an architect used to moving mountains in the far east. “We’ve stuck our heads
up like coconuts in a funfair expecting them to be knocked down. But we need to
do something soon, and this plan is national, aiming to redress the imbalance
of the economies of north and south.”

Could it happen? Could we soon be flying in and out of one of the greatest ports
in the world where fleets of modern aircraft, ships and trains power Britain’s
economy into a newly competitive age? Will we live in fine new homes connected
to brand new transport, energy and communications spines and hubs? Or will we
decide it’s business as usual in little Britain and carry on building junk
housing on what were once meadows and unsustainable supermarkets and shopping malls
on the land that’s left and between overcrowded roads and railways? Foster and
his team have offered a big-spirited vision of Britain, but do we have eyes to
see it?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/nov/02/lord-foster-thames-hub-project

 

also Daily Mail  (with lots of pictures)

3.11.2011

Will world’s biggest airport be built on the Thames? Lord Foster unveils plans
for £50bn site that will handle 150m passengers a year

Will world’s biggest airport be built on the Thames? Lord Foster unveils plans
for £50bn site that will handle 150m passengers a year

- Rival to Mayor’s ‘Boris Island’ plan, it would run 24 hours a day and be more
than twice as busy as Heathrow

- A railway station to be built under the new airport would be the UK’s busiest,
handling 300,000 arrivals and departures a day

- Critics say nearby gas storage and container port mean it is the ‘daftest ever’
airport plan for the area as results of a crash would be explosive

- Medway Council accuse Lord Foster of never having visited

Full article at

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2056504/Lord-Foster-unveils-50bn-plans-Thames-Estuary-airport-handle-150-million-passengers-year.html?ito=feeds-newsxml