Kent County Council and Medway Council call on London mayor to stop airport ‘madness’
The leaders of Medway Council and Kent County Council have called on the Mayor of London to make clear where he stands on the Thames Estuary airport a scheme they say is madness
The mayor has campaigned for more than two years for a new ¬£40billion hub airport on a man-made island off the Kent and Essex coast. But his scheme has been repeatedly rejected by the government, and the aviation industry.
This morning (Tuesday, 18 February) the mayor held a seminar to discuss the economic need for increased airport capacity, and a new hub airport for south-east England.
In this he released a report on this subject, but did not specifically name a preferred site for any new airport.
Rodney Chambers, the leader of Medway Council in Kent, said: It seems a little late in the day to now try and pull the wool over peoples eyes in the way the mayor appears to be doing with this new report. He may say that they are not currently looking at a specific location for his new hub airport, but he has campaigned vigorously for one in the Thames Estuary for some time now.
Daniel Moylan, who is the author of this new report, was dispatched to see me just before Christmas by the mayor to try and cut a deal.In that meeting, Mr Moylan made it clear that London mayor Boris Johnson was supportive of a Thames Estuary airport and he asked me if we in Medway would agree to it if all the infrastructure, such as new train lines, roads etc., were based in Essex and not Kent.
I responded that we in Medway can comment on what should or should not happen in Essex and reaffirmed the opinion of all at Medway Council and the vast majority of people in Kent, that the mayor‚Äôs island airport scheme is unnecessary, unworkable and unaffordable.
It seems as if Boris Johnson has tried campaign for this airport, but is now trying a new approach due to the resistance he has met from the huge amount of people who are against his plans. The mayor now needs to make clear where he stands on the Thames Estuary airport.Has he seen sense and abandoned this pie in the sky scheme or is this a ploy to persuade the government of his plan that he has campaigned for for some time. People across the Thames Estuary, including residents across Medway and Kent, do need to know as the airport will affect them greatly.
Cllr Paul Carter, the Leader of Kent County Council, added: Boris’ plans for a Thames Estuary airport are madness!
The Thames Estuary is a very inhospitable place – high winds, sea fog, not to mention a major pathway for thousands of migrating birds.
If aviation demand is to grow over the next 10 to 20 years, we must manage this demand by maximising the opportunity at the existing airports in the south east.
There is much untapped capacity, particularly at Manston in Kent, Southend, Luton and Stansted.
The key to remaining internationally competitive will be improving the transport links between existing airports.
Gatwick and Heathrow could be connected with a fast shuttle – journey time 12 – 15 minutes, St Pancras to Manston in 1 hour and the new High Speed 2 bringing Birmingham City Airport much closer to London.
Medway Council and Kent County Council, backed by the RSPB, launched a campaign in 2009 and online petition at www.stopestuaryairport.co.uk against the Thames Estuary airport plan.
They argue that an estuary airport would turn parts of Medway and Kent into a concrete jungle and disrupt the environment off the Hoo Pensinsula where the island airport would be built a place with Sites of Special Scientific Interest and internationally important areas used by hundreds of thousands of migrating birds.
The campaign argues that instead of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary the capacity of existing airports, where the infrastructure is already in place, should be fully used.
For instance, Manston Airport, in Kent, has one of the longest runways in Europe and already has a high-speed rail link while Birmingham International Airport has previously said it could double its capacity, allowing an extra nine million passengers to fly from it annually.
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