Boris Johnson claims a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary would support 336,000 jobs and contribute £92.1 billion to the UK economy in 2050.
In a late-bid to keep alive his plan for a four runway airport, the London mayor has submitted a report to the Airports Commission, which is considering whether the so-called ‘Boris Island’ should be on a shortlist of expansion options for the south east of England.
The Commission has already shortlisted Heathrow and Gatwick and will make a decision in the next few weeks over whether to include the estuary option.
Johnson claims Gatwick would not deliver the hub capacity the UK needs, and expansion at Heathrow would create “too much noise and environmental pollution”.
“There is no better example of the stark choice between planning for the future and depressing short-termism,” Johnson said. “A new hub airport, properly planned, has the potential to reshape the economic geography of London and the whole of the South-East for decades to come.
“It would be a project of a scale we are no longer accustomed to in this country, though it has become commonplace elsewhere. We simply cannot afford to miss out on the opportunities a new airport would give us.”
The Isle of Grain is located on the Hoo Peninsula in north Kent and is almost all marshland. It has come under fire from environmental groups because the area is home to thousands of wintering birds and other wildlife leading the RSPB to describe the proposal as “disastrous”.
Rodney Chambers, leader of Medway Council, said the location was “financially, geographically and environmentally wrong”.
“It will waste tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money for a project which is on the wrong side of London for the majority of passengers,” he said.
Gatwick’s chief executive officer Stewart Wingate said the West Sussex airport was “the obvious choice” for additional runway capacity.
“It is deliverable and affordable, and is the best option for passengers.
“Expanding Gatwick would allow Heathrow to get better but not bigger, creating two world-class airports in London that would compete to provide more connections to the rest of the world and better customer service,” he said.