Will a Thames estuary airport ever get off the ground?

With the array of proposals for a Thames Estuary airport now being put to Sir Howard Davies and his Airports Commission, Kent residents worry about the huge environmental damage that any of them would do.  Despite the problems with the concept of a massive new hub airport, dependent on tens of billions of pounds of public money, it seems that Boris remains intent on leaving the area with a vanity project – the legacy of which could devastate parts of Kent.  Not only are there bird reserves of incomparable importance along the estuary, there are also marine ecology in the estuary.  Each of the four current main contenders as an estuary airport would bring their separate problems and devastate different areas. The people of Kent need to pull together on opposing all of the plans, and avoid the temptation of passing the buck on to an unlucky neighbour. The people of Kent can only hope that common sense (and economic sense) will prevail and they will be spared.


Will an estuary airport ever get off the ground?

March 21, 2013 (Canterbury Times – This is Kent )

by Julie Wassmer

I ONCE flew to France from Manston airport. There were no crowds in the terminal and no queues at check-in. On return, our luggage awaited us on the carousel and we arrived home 20 minutes after touchdown. My husband joked that it was like having our own private airport. Manston’s EU Jet flights failed to continue but London mayor, Boris Johnson, soon came up with a new idea.

Having once worked with a member of his family, I’ve heard plenty of amusing anecdotes about BoJo, but it’s wise to remember that aside from his bumbling TV persona, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a Classics scholar and a successful politician who wields a great deal of power.

He is also committed to the construction of an airport in the Thames estuary, a project which, if allowed to go ahead, would stand in the flight path of four of London’s five major airports and destroy the habitat of thousands of wetland birds. Its construction would cost tens of billions and is likely to disturb the nearby wartime wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery which carries 1,400 tons of explosives.

An estuary airport, however, would replace the need for a third runway at Heathrow, so therefore has support from those living in London – like Boris.

I always assumed the idea was too barmy ever to get off the ground but I changed my mind when I was contacted by two senior personnel from the RSPB. Paul Outhwaite and Alan Johnson fixed a date to visit but, before they had even arrived, another estuary proposal was put forward – this time for an airport just six miles off our coastline in Whitstable.

The RSPB knows how damaging an estuary airport would be for local wildlife, but Whitstable also has a marine ecology to protect and the Rosewell proposal, with a potential for six runways handling 240 flights an hour, would surely destroy the very nature of our town.

Conservative MP, Mark Reckless, is so concerned for his own area that he personally launched a campaign opposing any airport on the Hoo Peninsula.  But I wonder how many Whitstable residents appreciate the damage that would be done if any of the several estuary airport proposals were to go ahead?

At my RSPB meeting, it was suggested that events to raise awareness might take place here this spring.  Cllr James Flanagan plans to contact the transport minister, Norman Baker, because it is clear that Boris Johnson isn’t backing down.

I’m reminded that someone once quipped that politics is ‘show business for ugly people’ but I like to think that good politicians seek to leave behind a legacy, something of value and lasting importance, as Bevan did with the NHS.  Others get it disastrously wrong like Blair with Iraq.

Boris seems intent on leaving us with a vanity project – the legacy of which could devastate this area.

For more information, please consult websites

Airport Watch

(www. https://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?page_id>5729 )

Friends of the North Kent Marshes

( http://www.northkentmarshes.org.uk/ )

and the RSPB

( http://www.rspbgravesend.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Airport-Thames-Estuary-statement-July-12.pdf )







The airport schemes for the Thames Estuary;

1.  Boris Island scheme, (off Whitstable)  ”London Jubilee”  Douglas Oakervee and Bridget Rosewell.  Details

2.  Foster scheme  (Hoo Peninsula – Isle of Grain).    Details

3.  Gensler scheme (floating somewhere in the middle) “London Britannia”  Details

4.  Goodwin Airport (on Goodwin sands, off Deal)   Details

It is estimated that a Thames Hub (considering Boris Island in particular) would take 16 years to build at a cost of some £50bn. The airport would cost £20bn, orbital rail £20bn; barrier crossing and tidal power generation of green energy to power the airport £6bn; and improving infrastructure £4bn. Boris has now admitted that it would also cost the UK taxpayer £30 billion for the road and rail links alone.  link 

Also London Gateway Airport at Cliffe (John Olsen)  Details..