Mayor of London Boris Johnson is facing fresh calls from politicians from across the political spectrum to drop his support for a new airport in the South East.
After coming to office in 2008 the Mayor commissioned a feasibility study into the construction of a new airport to be located in the Thames Estuary, an area outside his control, which he said “has got to be factored in as an option for London’s long-term aviation needs.”
In October councillors on Medway Council welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s confirmation that the government had no plans for such a scheme.
The airport plan has also been opposed by environmental groups, including the RSPB, and major airlines using Heathrow Airport.
In a statement issued ahead of a City Hall seminar being held on Tuesday “to discuss the need for increased aviation capacity in London and the south east”, Medway councillors have repeated their calls for the Mayor to “shelve once and for all his plan for a Thames Estuary airport and stop ‘wasting public money’ on his doomed project.”
Medway Council Leader Rodney Chambers, who has previously written for MayorWatch setting out the case against the scheme, said: “I believe it is time that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, realises that his pie in the sky Thames Estuary airport plan will never get off the ground.
“It has already been rejected by the government and the aviation industry – with nine out of ten air carriers saying they oppose the scheme.”
Cllr Chambers said he had declined an invitation to attend the seminar which is being timed with the release of a new report City Hall officials say “makes the economic case for increased aviation capacity and the need for this to be configured in a hub airport.”
The Mayor’s continued support for the scheme has also been condemned by London Assembly Members.
Green Party AM Darren Johnson called on the Mayor “to give up his dead duck plans for a new airport” and said “for a Mayor who claims to be concerned about climate change, building a new airport is the last thing he should be considering.”
Johnson added: “There has been significant opposition to this idea from local people, politicians and from environmental campaigners. The Mayor would better represent Londoners’ interests by pushing for investment in alternatives to aviation, such as improved and more affordable rail services”.
City Hall Liberal Democrat leader Caroline Pidgeon claimed the Mayor’s position on airports was “full of contradictions” adding that he “opposed the expansion of City Airport in his election campaign, yet once in office he has been happy to support its substantial expansion. He has also spent the last two years backing the fantasy idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary – uniting every council and environmental group against him.”
“The Mayor of London has no power to build or finance airports, but nevertheless he can’t stop meddling on this topic. His apparent desire to support increased air traffic noise and disturbance of Londoners and people in the South East never seems to go away.”
Friends of the Earth’s London Campaigner Jenny Bates said a new airport “would have a massive impact on local communities and wildlife, and completely undermine efforts to tackle climate change.”
Bates added: “The Mayor should be putting his efforts into creating a cutting edge low-carbon transport system for the capital – backing a huge new airport further tarnishes his already dwindling environmental credibility.”