After much controversy, a South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) commissioned report has revealed that building an airport in the Thames Estuary would be far too expensive and take too long to address current issues affecting air travel in the UK.
The report suggests that expanding existing airports, such as Heathrow and Gatwick, is the only feasible option for air travel in the short term.
Thames Estuary Airport
John Spence, LEP's Chairman, outlined that Britain is currently loosing air traffic and needs action to be taken now, rather than wait for an airport in the Thames Estuary 10 years from now.
"It confirms the need for new capacity in the long term but the immediate need is for better utilisation of the capacity we have. We do not believe that a hub airport in the Thames Estuary is a viable short or medium-term solution."
This sentiment was echoed by director of Demand Regeneration in North Kent, Dai Liyanage, who said that an airport in the Thames Estuary was “better thing for a longer-term solution rather than a short sighted solution.” Liyanage went on to highlight that job creation would outweigh any environmental damage caused by a new airport.
UK Airport Expansion
The LEP report also revealed that developing airports such as Manston and Southend would address some short-tern business requirements, but that there was a substantial chance for work to begin with London City airports, Gatwick and Heathrow.
The LEP report may place pressure on the UK government to perform a U-turn on its “no third runway and Heathrow” pledge. Pressure can also be felt from airports outside the South East, such as Birmingham, who are urging the government to focus more on the development of regional airports.
The government are expected to consult on a new strategy for aviation this summer, but reiterate that their position on a third runway at Heathrow “has not changed”, but that they have still not ruled out the potential for satellite runways to ease pressure on major hubs.