The notion of developing a new airport in the Thames Estuary has been debated for decades. What do you think?
As reported in the December issue of Airliner World, ambitious plans to construct a new airport in the Thames Estuary to ease the congestion at London/Heathrow have moved a step closer after a study revealed that it is technically feasible.
At the request of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, engineer Douglas Oakervee, who previously helped with the construction of Chek Lap Kok on reclaimed land in Hong Kong, has made a detailed study into the proposal.
In his 64-page report, released in October, he claimed that the area of the Thames Estuary does not present any insoluble issues regarding weather, geology, hydrography, shipping lanes, fishing activities, leisure services or other physical obstructions. Mr Johnson has now appointed Sir David King, the former government chief scientist, to head up a steering group that will complete a more detailed study with a strong emphasis being placed on the airport's possible impact on the area's ecology and bird population.
The £40 billion airport, dubbed 'Boris Island' and 'Heathrow-on-Sea', will be located several miles off the Essex/Kent coast and will have four 13,780ft (4,200m) runways, possibly increasing to six in the future. The London Mayor believes the project is the only answer to London's capacity constraints, especially with BAA confirming that it will not now make a planning application for the proposed new runway at Heathrow until after the next General Election. Although the ruling Labour Party support the project in principle, the Conservatives, who are widely expected to gain control, have stated publicly that they will oppose any plans for further expansion at the airport.
According to Oakervee's Thames Estuary Airport Feasibility Review, the evidence provided by the Department of Transport's published figures on passenger growth and future capacity of London's airports shows a shortfall in capacity of about 70mppa by 2030, even when all other potential expansion is put in place. This puts into perspective the debate on Heathrow and its uses, as well as the need for further capacity in due course, it says, adding that even if these figures are optimistic they indicate an order of magnitude that demonstrates the need for another airport by or before 2030.
What do you think? Post your thoughts below.