London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for an investigation into a brand new London airport in the Thames Estuary.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson said: "It is...ever more urgent that we investigate the possibility of a long-term solution, in the form of a new and more eco-friendly international airport at a site in the Thames Estuary".
He added that this is a matter "of which you will be hearing a lot more in due course".
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London confirmed directly to Airport International that Johnson has ordered transport officials in City Hall, the Greater London Assembly, to investigate whether constructing an entirely new airport in the estuary would be feasible financially and operationally.
Thames Estuary Airport
Earlier this year, during his campaign to be elected as London Mayor, Johnson criticised the current plans to develop a new runway and terminal at Heathrow Airport, and said plans to build a new airport on reclaimed land should be re-evaulated.
Having been voted into office in May, it now appears Johnson is seriously looking at the idea of a Thames Estuary airport.
The Mayor of London spokesperson said: "The Mayor is keen to know what the alternatives are to expansion at Heathrow and would like to know whether the idea of a new airport in the Thames estuary would be viable or not. He has asked officers to consider the feasibility of a new airport to see if the idea is worth further consideration".
In his article, Johnson added that the current level of delays at London's airports, especially Heathrow and Gatwick, is becoming untolerable and that action needs to be taken in order to preserve London's growing reputation as a key business centre and tourism destination - especially with the Olympics just four years away.
Aviation White Paper
Johnson seriously examining the feasibility of a new airport for London in the Estuary is intriguing, given that various plans to construct an airport in the Thames have been dismissed.
The idea of a new London airport in the Estuary was first mooted in the 1970s, but that was abandoned because of a funding shortage.
In its 2003 Aviation White Paper the government examined the feasibility for an airport on reclaimed land at Cliffe on the south side of the estuary, but again the high costs (estimated at Â£11 billion) and the potential environmental impact of a new airport meant the plan was dismissed.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds - certainly it is likely that the aviation industry will take a somewhat questionable view of it, given their four-square support for Heathrow's expansion.
Source - Airport International's London Reporter
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