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Estuary airport bid hit by new setback
7:40am Thursday 11th October 2012 in News
PLANS for an airport in the Thames Estuary have been dealt a blow by an independent commission.
A report into airport capacity needs by Tim Leunig, of the think-tank CentreForum, said Thames Estuary airport plans, supported by London mayor Boris Johnson and architect Lord Foster, were not practical.
It said an estuary airport would be too difficult to get to and would present greater environmental challenges than expansion at Heathrow.
It also ruled out four-runway airports at Gatwick or Stansted.
Thurrock leaders have continually opposed the plans, saying the flight path would go directly over the borough, causing a headache to residents.
The report said the best option would be four runways immediately west of Heathrow Airport.
A four-runway airport at Luton would be the next-best plan. Mr Johnson attacked the Government’s aviation policy, saying delays in making decisions were an “economic catastrophe”.
He said: “I am hugely concerned the intended timetable sets a course for economic catastrophe.
“The lamentable attention the Government has paid to this pressing issue has forced me to accelerate the work I will do to develop a credible solution.”
He maintained there were only three options for expansion – at Stansted or at two sites in the Thames Estuary.
Thurrock Council leader Cllr Kent said: “Everybody knows the whole idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary is madness and this latest study confirms that.
“There is, however, no room from complacency on this. There are still people, such as mayor Johnson, who remain absolutely committed to building an airport in the Thames.”
The report also called for a complete ban on the noisiest of aircraft at all times, a complete ban on flights between 11pm and 6.15am and steeper landing angles to cut down on noise.
The Government has appointed former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies to lead an independent commission into the matter.
Its report is due in summer 2015.