‘Island airport’ idea criticised by Kent County Council

24.9.2008   (BBC)

A suggestion by London’s Mayor that an airport could be built on an artificial
island in the Thames estuary has been branded a “big bad idea”.

Boris Johnson wants to look at the feasibility of a 24-hour, four runway airport
near the Isle of Sheppey.

Paul Carter the Tory leader of Kent County Council said the estuary was an “unsuitable”

But one of Kent’s business leaders said a new airport would have huge benefits
for the area.

Officials in London are looking at plans to reduce air traffic congestion at


The airport handles more than 500,000 take-offs and landings a year.

At the weekend Mr Johnson said he was looking at the feasibility of a new site
somewhere near the Isle of Sheppey.

Councillor Paul Carter said:   “Well I’m not best pleased. All new administrations
have big ideas and I think this is a big bad idea.

“I think it’s a totally unsuitable place for an airport when you think about
the winter weather that we have in the Thames Estuary – a lot of mist and fog.”

The suggestion has also been criticised by environmental groups who say an airport
would have a detrimental impact on wildlife.


However, Mike Lazenby, chief executive of Kent Reliance Building Society said
he welcomed Boris Johnson’s idea.

He added: “There will always be people that say it is not a good idea but the
fact is there are huge benefits to having an airport in Kent.

“The fact is that the road infrastructure and the rail infrastructure in Kent
is better than just about anywhere else in the country.

“This would be significant for all businesses in Kent, not just for employment
but for jobs and for peripheral business that can all work together to make Kent
the right place to have a new airport.”

The government is due to make a decision on the proposed expansion of Heathrow
by the end of the year.

Operator BAA has been stressing the need for expansion saying that Heathrow is
“jam-packed” and needs a third runway to remain competitive globally.

But environmentalists, residents groups and councils opposing the move say the
proposed expansion would have a serious impact on hundreds of thousands of homes
in the area in terms of air quality and noise levels.