A new runway at Heathrow would be the “worst possible option” in the debate over expanding the UK’s aviation capacity, according to Daniel Moylan, adviser to London mayor Boris Johnson.
Speaking today at the Runways UK conference in London, Moylan, said the mayor was “profoundly unsettled” by the Airport Commission’s recent interim report, which last month shortlisted only Heathrow and Gatwick as locations for new runways.
In 2012, chairman of the Airports Commission, Howard Davies, was asked to investigate the options for increasing aviation capacity in the UK. Last month it unveiled the short-listed options – new runways at Heathrow and Gatwick, and an extension of Heathrow’s existing northern runway.
The Commission said the proposed plan for an airport hub in the inner Thames estuary, dubbed “Boris Island” due to the mayor’s backing, would be “considered” later this year.
Davies, who was also speaking at the event today, announced the publication of a draft consultation process, which aims to provide the Government with “sufficient evidence” that can be used to help support the delivery of a final recommendation.
Moylan accused the Commission of handing Heathrow a “grossly unfair advantage” in the decision making process, which he described as having a “touch of Simon Cowell about it”.
“This is not only about aviation, it’s about the economic impact of significant changes in London’s airport system,” said Moylan. “East London has a huge deprivation. A new airport would be transformative for jobs and growth in that area, and a new runway at Heathrow would be the worst possible option.
“Serious countries have hub airports, they provide the best solution, not a collection of airports randomly scattered across the south east.”
Moylan added the Commission was treating Johnson at arm’s length and appeared to regard him as “on par with a private company motivated by commercial interests.”
Davies said he could not “sensibly rule out” or sensibly rule in” the proposed project at the Isle of Grain, north Kent, and would make a decision in the autumn.