Mayor of London Boris Johnson has published three proposals aimed at increasing the UK’s airport capacity without further development at Heathrow.
The plans form part of the Mayor’s submission to the UK Government’s air capacity review and include a hub airport built on the Isle of Grain in Kent, expansion at Stansted Airport and a four-runway hub in the Thames Estuary.
Speaking at City Hall on Monday, Mayor Johnson said a new hub airport could create 375,000 jobs by 2050 and add £742bn to the value of goods and services produced in the UK.
The Mayor also said a move away from Heathrow would create space for 100,000 new homes served by four tube stations, Crossrail and National Rail connections.
City Hall says some existing Heathrow staff would relocate to the new airport, but that “thousands of new jobs” would be created by unlocking “the huge development potential that is buried beneath the tarmac at Heathrow”.
Mr Johnson said: “Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us and putting themselves in a position to eat London’s breakfast, lunch and dinner by constructing mega airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of.
“For London and the wider UK to remain competitive we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth. Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow, which already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, is quite simply crackers.”
The Mayor’s proposals to close Heathrow were condemned as “sheer lunacy” by Colin Ellar, Deputy leader of Hounslow Council.
Cllr Ellar added: “Boris’s plans to solve London’s housing crisis and replace the thousands of jobs lost appears to be based on a wing and a prayer. We and many sensible commentators don’t seriously think Boris Island, wherever it is in the estuary, will ever take off.”
The Mayor’s plans for an Estuary airport in Kent have long been criticised by local MPs and councillors from all parties.
Rodney Chambers, Leader of Medway Council, said the Mayor had “failed to listen to the huge number of people who have said that placing an airport in North Kent, on or near the Thames Estuary, is a complete non-starter.”
He added: “There are no roads or rail lines there to support an airport that would carry up to 150 million passengers a year, and putting these in place would cost the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds – a needless waste of money.”
The Mayor’s opposition to further development at Heathrow is unanimously backed by the London Assembly.
However Assembly Members want the Mayor to re-examine existing capacity before backing construction of a new hub airport.
Valerie Shawcross AM, Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, said: “By setting out clear strategy to improve transport infrastructure, the Mayor could discover that passengers are happy to use capacity at airports already in existence.
“Stansted, for example, say they could attract an additional 1.5 million passengers each year if the journey time by train from London was reduced from 45 to 30 minutes.”