Boris claims there is a ‘political fix around Gatwick’ while he makes last pitch to Airports Commission for estuary airport

Boris has now submitted his dossier to the Airports Commission, in support of his plan for a massive hub airport in the Thames estuary. The Commission had given Boris extra time in which to address critical questions concerning his plans. Boris claimed that the government was edging towards giving Gatwick the go-ahead, saying there was “a political fix around Gatwick”. He said, in all parties: “A lot of money is moving off Heathrow and on to Gatwick. Heathrow is closer to the answer but not deliverable. Gatwick is more deliverable but it is not the right answer.”  He said, expanding Gatwick was “a sham, a snare, a delusion”. Boris hopes his estuary airport could be built for about £25 billion, with £25bn more for surrounding transport infrastructure, and £14 billion more to buy and close Heathrow, which would be redeveloped as a new suburb.  Boris makes the usual claims about jobs and growth of the economy, and gives no thought at all to the fact that two new runways cannot be fitted within UK carbon targets. Boris’s evidence from the CAA shows a 3rd Heathrow runway would bring the number of people exposed to severe aircraft noise to more than a million. Utterly unacceptable.




UK airport expansion: Boris Johnson claims ‘political fix around Gatwick’

Thames estuary airport more efficient in long term, says London mayor, who described expanding Gatwick as ‘a delusion’
  •  Boris Johnson about to board a plane
Boris Johnson: ‘A lot of money is moving off Heathrow and on to Gatwick … Gatwick is more deliverable but it is not the right answer.’ Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

A “political fix” is putting Gatwick airport in pole position to get a new runway, London mayor Boris Johnson claimed, as he appealed to theAirports Commission to take a longer view and reconsider building a new hub.

The mayor has submitted a new dossier to the commission, which had made its scepticism over his favoured plan of a Thames estuary airportproject clear but revised its timetable to allow Johnson to address critical questions.

Johnson said it was time to stop “making do” and haphazardly expanding existing airports, adding: “We must ensure that the final outcome is not one that future generations will regret.”

The mayor claimed the government was edging towards giving Gatwick the go-ahead, saying there was “a political fix around Gatwick”. He said, in all parties: “A lot of money is moving off Heathrow and on to Gatwick. Heathrow is closer to the answer but not deliverable. Gatwick is more deliverable but it is not the right answer.”

He said, expanding Gatwick was “a sham, a snare, a delusion”.

Johnson’s favoured inner Thames estuary airport plan, promoted by architects Foster and Partners, would cost about £25bn to build, with £25bn extra needed for surrounding transport infrastructure, and an additional £14bn to purchase and shut down Heathrow, which would be redeveloped as a new suburb.

However, the mayor’s team claim much of this money could be raised from the private sector, while new infrastructure would be an inevitable government spend to meet the needs of an expanding population in east London, whether or not a new airport was built.

The Thames estuary case focuses on London’s forecast growth, to 11.3 million people by 2050, and the additional jobs and homes moving the hub airport could produce. The submission claims the new hub would generate £7bn a year in economic benefits and would be commercially viable with a relatively modest increase in landing charges – rejecting the Airports Commission’s estimates that the cost of building in the Thames estuary would mean fees triple those at Heathrow, driving up fares.

Foster and Partners' artist impression of a four-runway Thames estuary airport capable.

Foster and Partners’ artist impression of a four-runway Thames estuary airport capable. Photograph: Foster And Partners/PA


Johnson’s latest evidence included studies conducted for Transport for London by the Civil Aviation Authority showing that a third runway at Heathrow would bring the number of people exposed to severe aircraft noise to more than a million, with areas from Kensington to Deptford caught within its noise contour. Referring to recent comments made by a Heathrow board member and major shareholder, Qatar Holdings’ Akbar Al-Baker, that locals would get used to plane noise, the mayor said: “Mr Al-Baker very brilliantly highlighted both the problem and the solution. Many people felt their experience didn’t accord with what he was saying. Doha is building a hub away from the main population; it was very helpful because he showed what needed to be done.”

According to the mayor’s team, building the Thames estuary airport at a similar remove from the capital would expose fewer than 30,000 people to aircraft noise. Johnson said: “The brutal, ineluctable facts of geography mean that we as a country will come round to this in the end.”

While Sir Howard Davies left the Thames estuary proposal off the original shortlist, political pressure resulted in a fudge whereby the commission requested more time to consider the idea of a brand new, four-runway hub in east London. Davies will announce in September whether the estuary plan remains in contention with the other three schemes. As well as Heathrow and Gatwick airports’ own blueprints for an additional runway, the Heathrow Hub group has drawn up a scheme to lengthen the west London airport’s two existing runways to effectively create a four-runway operation.

The commission will give its final recommendation in June 2015. No political party has promised to implement its findings. Johnson, who may yet be in a parliamentary role when a decision is made, said: “I will respect the findings of the Davies commission but I will not abide by them.”



See also Telegraph article at


Boris In Final Desperate Push For Estuary Airport, Dismissing Gatwick Expansion A ‘Sham’

The Mayor of London has made his final case for a new four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary.

By Elizabeth Anderson  (Management Today)

Friday, 23 May 2014


Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said that a new airport in the Thames Estuary would add £7bn a year to the UK economy and create 400,000 jobs.

Six months after the Airport Commission said it favoured options for a third runway at Heathrow and another for a second runway at Gatwick, Johnson has come back with a final push for a new hub in the Estuary to cope with the growing numbers of travellers into and out of London.

‘The creation of a monstrous Heathrow on a constrained site won’t solve our capacity crisis and would inflict untold misery on hundreds of thousands more Londoners through the din of many more jet engines,’ he said. ‘A new hub in the inner estuary can be built for the same cost as a four-runway Heathrow, and would bring new jobs, homes, and long-term competitiveness.’

The Mayor said that if the commission failed to look to the longer term and continued to focus on what was needed in the short term, it would be letting the country down.

He also said there is a ‘political fix around Gatwick’ which is edging towards giving the UK’s second-busiest airport the go ahead, and that expanding Gatwick is a ‘sham, a snare, a delusion.’

The Airports Commission, led by MT columnist Sir Howard Davies, was set up by the UK Government in September 2012 to look at ways of increasing UK airport capacity.

In December 2013, the committee concluded that Heathrow and Gatwick were the two airports shortlisted to go through to the next round of scrutiny over who gets to build another runway. It said more detail on Johnson’s proposal for the hub on the Isle of Grain in Kent was needed before it could consider the proposal.

At the time, Johnson said the good news was that ‘we’re not dead yet,’ but described Davies’ request for more information as a ‘fudgerama’, saying his own proposal was now ‘half in and half out’.

 However Medway and Kent Councils both oppose the Mayor’s plans, and yesterday published the results of a survey they commissioned that suggested five out of six adults would oppose the new airport.

Heathrow and Gatwick outlined revised plans for new runways last week. Gatwick’s new runway will allow 10 million more passengers a year to travel, it said, and create 120,000 jobs.

Heathrow’s third runway would create 100,000 jobs, deliver £100bn of economic benefits, and will add 40 new direct routes ‘to fast growing economies’ like San José, Wuhan and Kolkata.

The Commission is due to make a final recommendation by 2015.




Boris’s press release

Boris’s press release onhis submission to the Airports Commission is at

Mayor warns Airports Commission not to miss the ‘bigger picture’

23 May 2014

The Mayor of London today urged the Commission charged with refereeing the ongoing debate about where to provide new aviation capacity in the UK to take the “bigger picture and longer view ” into account. Issuing a substantial new dossier of evidence today (23 May) the Mayor said that a national decision on airport policy was not just about where to lay the tarmac for another runway, but presented a chance to reshape the national economy to meet the challenges of astonishing levels of projected population growth, not least in London. The Mayor said that if the commission failed to look to the longer term and continued to focus on what was needed in the short term, it would be letting the country down.

Key to nearly every page of the new submission is the belief that airport policy has a huge impact on the entire fabric of society and that the decision on national aviation policy must be closely linked to the phenomenal rate of population growth in London. With London forecast to grow to 10million people by 2030 and by a staggering 37 per cent to 11.3million people by 2050, major infrastructure decisions like airport expansion have to contribute towards meeting the need for homes and jobs posed by that growth. Were a decision made to build a new airport then redevelopment of the Heathrow site could provide 90,000 jobs and 80,000 homes, adding £7.5 billion a year to the UK economy.

Today the Mayor told the Airports Commission they risked missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to end the blinkered and ‘make-do’ philosophy that had led to decades of haphazard expansion, and to recognise that the only proposal to address the wider needs of the nation would be to build a new hub airport that would generate economic benefits of at least £7bn a year, providing a secure platform for the prosperity of a growing population.

The submission to the Airports Commission has been developed with the support of world leading consultancies with specialties covering a wide range of aviation and city planning skills. And in the evidence released today the Mayor’s team declare that a new airport in the inner estuary is technically, economically and environmentally feasible. The new airport:

  • Would generate a massive, permanent boost for the UK economy. It would support around 400,000 jobs UK wide, with the benefits from the extra global connectivity alone worth nearly £7bn a year. Those benefits would be far greater and much wider-reaching than single new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick.
  • Is assessed as commercially viable on a standalone basis with only a small increase in landing charges – nothing like the increase claimed by the Commission.
  • Faces no insuperable obstacles to its delivery. Every challenge posed can be addressed and building a new airport would be far less taxing than facing the challenges posed by the massive environmental and political undeliverability of a new runway at Heathrow.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The Airports Commission has been asked to consider a subject that is of vital importance to our country’s prosperity and place in the world. It is not a small matter and their work will have ramifications for decades to come. That is why it is crucial their considerations take into account the future requirements of this country in 40 or even 50 years time. We must ensure that the final outcome is not one that future generations will regret.”

Today’s evidence included studies conducted for TfL by the Civil Aviation Authority, which show that a third runway at Heathrow would bring the number exposed to severe noise to more than one million people. Areas that would be newly caught within Heathrow’s noise contour include Kensington, Chelsea, Chiswick and Deptford. By contrast a new airport in the Thames Estuary would expose less than three per cent of the same number to aircraft noise. The document adds that scientific studies have associated loud and sustained noise with adverse health impacts, including increased risk of hospital admission for stroke and cardiovascular disease, higher rates of hypertension and lower reading ages in children.

Other key points made in the submission include that:

  • By 2050, a new hub airport would provide 63 more daily regional air connections than if no additional hub airport capacity is provided, which is 43 more than today and 49 more than Heathrow could sustain with a third runway.
  • A new airport in the Inner Thames Estuary would add 134,000 net additional jobs in the local area by 2050 – equivalent to £16.6bn GVA per annum – and trigger a further 138,000 catalytic jobs across the whole region. Nationally, an inner Thames estuary airport would support 388,000 gross jobs by 2050, worth £42.3bn per annum in GVA terms.
  • Having a strong hub airport serving the UK is vital to the economies of the UK regions. It would provide a £2.2 billion economic boost to 15 major UK cities by 2050 and deliver 18,000 new jobs thanks to the improved connectivity that a new, unconstrained airport would deliver.
  • The additional connectivity would improve UK productivity, resulting in a permanent 0.5% increase in GDP – valued at £6.9bn in today’s prices.
  • By contrast, the Airports Commission’s own figures demonstrate that a 3-runway Heathrow would effectively be full shortly after opening, with limited slot availability and very poor resilience – little improvement on Heathrow today.
  • A second runway at Gatwick is no solution either – it fails to address the dire noise problems; unable to function as a hub alongside Heathrow it cannot deliver the connectivity the UK needs; and as a result offers the smallest economic boost of any of the options being considered.

Today’s submission also reaffirms a key conclusion of TfL’s submission to the Airports Commission in 2013: that building and moving to a new airport can be assessed as commercially viable, on a standalone basis, with a relatively modest increase in landing charges.

A new analysis undertaken by Ernst & Young concludes that a threefold increase in landing charges, claimed by the Airports Commission to be necessary to repay debt by 2050, is based on assumptions that are without any local or global precedent; adjusting these assumptions brings the required increase in landing charges down significantly, to 1.4x Heathrow’s Q6 level.  Indeed, KPMG (the Commission’s own financial advisers) acknowledges the 2050 assumption as “arbitrary” and the approach “highly simplified”, and that, under different assumptions, an increase of just six per cent would be needed.

It was confirmed today that the Mayor and Sir Howard Davies will both attend and speak at a major event on 18 June where the challenge of London’s growth will be addressed. Further details and invitations to the “Shaping a growing London: the place of an airport” event will be released within the next week.




Some of the comments under the Guardian story:


Boris isn’t interested in anyone’s health. This is his great vanity project. Look at this record on air quality. If he gave a damn he would do something to reduce inner city traffic, but that’s not sexy enough.

The best airport is one with no runways.


Just think of Boris and Dave as salesmen,on commission, for a variety of construction,oil/gas and diesel engine interests.

The intriguing thing is who are they the front men for and how their “commissions” are paid.


A Thames airport would be an utter disaster in terms of fog, gales and bird strikes. Planes would continue to have to circle over London and fly low over the city on take-off rather than over the gravel pits to the immediate west of Heathrow as to fly over the estuary and the towering London Array would disrupt flight paths into other coastal European airports such as Schipol. It would also disrupt the prosperity of those Thames Valley towns such as Swindon, Reading etc whose businesses depend on easy access to Heathrow.

Boris is a dreamer, nothing wrong with that, but he’s having a nightmare with this proposal.


Which would you prefer, a plane crashing into the unexploded bombs of the SS Montgomery or a plane crashing into London?
If Heathrow stays and a plane hits a populated area people will look back and say, why didn’t they take the opportunity to move the airport


What about the post-oil society? Will we really see air travel grow for ever?



Hasn’t the closure of Manston indicated what a dead duck a hub airport this side of “town” would be?

Heathrow remains the major focal point because it is positioned to serve more of the country. Only Stansted could improve on that by concentrating our logistical minds on more central/eastern routes north, rather than the current obsession with the West Coast as regards HS2.


What people want is not always in our best collective interests.

I’m sure many people would want an unpaid helper, but slavery is illegal, at least incivilised countries.

Flying is the most effective way of causing climate change. While a tiny minority get to benefit from this in the short term, all of life on earth has to suffer to the consequences. Part of the tragedy of the commons.


I think future generatyions are going to regret quite a few decisions being taken right now. Most involve continuing to burn fossil fuels when the evidence of severe change is not just threatening to occur, but with the confirmation of the Antarctic ice sheet on the move ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Fat Boris may be in an expansionary state on a personal level, but the pursuit of fossil-fuel driven economic growth will be recognized by historians as the cause of the round of extinctions and economic collapse precipitating now. We are all responsible, of course, but they must wonder why we so blindly threw everything away and followed complete ignorami like Cameron, the clan Johnson, the Ghost of Thatcher. As the film so titled grasped so aptly, this really is The Age Of Stupid.