After a week in which Mayor of London Boris Johnson has faced calls to ‘clarify’ his backing of the scheme, Cllr Rodney Chambers, Leader of Medway Council, sets out the case against building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.
You have to wonder why the Mayor of London wants an airport in the Thames Estuary when all the economic, environmental and political reasons stack up against it.
The Mayor is becoming increasingly isolated on this issue and has found few supporters for the scheme.
For instance, London’s business community has said it’s unrealistic and couldn’t be built within 20 years.
And the public are overwhelmingly opposed to it too. A recent survey by One Poll showed that fewer than one in five people back the idea.
Even the airlines are against. Research published recently by Medway Council shows that all the major airlines that use Heathrow Airport, including British Airways and Virgin Airlines, say no.
The Mayor cannot even count on support amongst fellow politicians as no government minister or heavyweight national figure has offered support.
There are good reasons why so many are opposed to such an idea – reasons we outlined in a meeting on Tuesday, 2 March with the mayor’s deputy Kit Malthouse.
In this meeting, Mr Malthouse told us that the proposals are at an early stage.
But he didn’t appear to want to take our views on board, even suggesting that they had other plans for the Thames Estuary area, including a possible science park.
I and the other councilors that went with me told him we believe the Mayor is acting in a predatory way.
We also said that the Thames Estuary is a risky site for an airport as it would be very close to Thamesport, where ships regularly unload their cargo of Liquified natural gas (LNG), and that no one has yet come up with a way to deal with the sunken munitions ship there, which is still full of explosives.
Coupled with this is the fact that landing aircraft would be 12 times more at risk from bird strike than at any other airport in the UK.
And the estuary contains Sites of Special Scientific Interest and other important environmental areas, which would be devastated by an airport.
I doubt the Mayor of London is concerned, but we also told his deputy that an airport would lead to a great deal of the much appreciated Kent countryside being dug up to make way for new roads, rail links and business parks.
All this for a price tag of at least £40 billion, or even more if you factor in the infrastructure that would have to be provided.
The good news for the Mayor, which we told Mr Malthouse, is that there are several viable alternatives, which have the support of Londoners and political leaders.
For instance, Manston Airport in Kent has one of the longest runways in Europe and is close to a high-speed rail link.
And not only does Birmingham want to expand but, in a recent survey, nearly half of Londoners said they would fly from there if the high-speed train link earmarked between the capital and Britain’s second city goes ahead.
The Mayor of London can rest assured, though, our campaign against a Thames Estuary airport (which you can read about at www.stopestuaryairport.co.uk) will continue until he finally drops his pie in the sky plan.
Cllr Rodney Chambers is Leader of Medway Council