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Mayor vows to continue the fight as Airports Commission turns its back on the future

Posted: 2 September 2014 | Mayor of London's Press Office | No comments yet

The Mayor of London has told the Airports Commission that their failure to take forward the only credible option for aviation expansion means their work will become increasingly irrelevant…

Boris Johnson

The Mayor of London has told the Airports Commission that their failure to take forward the only credible option for aviation expansion means their work will become increasingly irrelevant, as he cannot conceive of any possible scenario in which a Government would approve the expansion of Heathrow.

Responding to news that the Airports Commission intends to consult on plans for new runways at Heathrow and Gatwick, but will not proceed with consultation on a four-runway hub airport in the Thames Estuary, the Mayor expressed deep regret that the Commission has taken the debate back to two options that have been on the table for half a century without ever reaching take-off.

The Mayor expressed disbelief that while the Commission seemed to have no single reason to rule out an estuary airport, they appeared unable to recommend it simply because of its sheer scale and vision. Sir Howard Davies has told the Mayor that the debate on a second additional runway would need to begin by 2020, well before construction of either a third runway at Heathrow or a second runway at Gatwick could start.

It is clear to the Mayor that the political Kryptonite of a third runway at Heathrow will run into immovable political opposition, as it has in the past, because of the appalling environmental consequences it will deliver to a million or more Londoners. And building a fourth runway at Heathrow would be an environmental disaster for London. Equally expanding Gatwick Airport will fail to provide the global connectivity that can only come from a large, four-runway hub airport. As a result the Mayor remains convinced that a future Government will return to plans for a hub airport on a site to the east of London, and any future recommendation made by the Davies Commission will be irrelevant.

The Mayor points out that, in rejecting the possibility of a new airport, the Commission has also turned its back on the rapidly growing population of London. That population desperately needs the homes and jobs that his Estuary proposal offers. The regeneration of east London and the Thames Gateway, entirely in line with current Government policy, would transform the south-east and create 336,000 jobs across the UK, whilst contributing £92 billion annually to UK GDP by 2050, dwarfing both Heathrow and Gatwick. A regenerated site at Heathrow could provide homes for up to 190,000 residents and as many as 90,000 jobs. Without a four runway hub airport it is clear that cities around the UK whose airports have already lost their connection with Heathrow, will fail to get it back as a third runway will be full from day one. Even the Airports Commission’s calculations show that.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “In one myopic stroke the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century and consigned their work to the long list of vertically filed reports on aviation expansion that are gathering dust on a shelf in Whitehall. Gatwick is not a long term solution and Howard Davies must explain to the people of London how he can possibly envisage that an expansion of Heathrow, which would create unbelievable levels of noise, blight and pollution, is a better idea than a new airport to the east of London that he himself admits is visionary, and which would create the jobs and growth this country needs to remain competitive. It remains the only credible solution, any process that fails to include it renders itself pretty much irrelevant, and I’m absolutely certain that it is the option that will eventually be chosen.”

The Mayor has confirmed his team will continue to make the case for a new airport to the east of London and ensure that the ongoing debate is considered with the needs of Londoners at the forefront. He has expressed his determination to ensure that the remaining options receive the fullest possible scrutiny. His team have been alarmed by wildly inaccurate claims being made in regard to the costs of the different schemes, and the Mayor has made it clear that he will use the consultation to ensure those costs – and the associated economic and social benefits – are properly scrutinised and corrected where necessary.

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