Was the Davies Commission right to rule out Boris Island as an option for airport expansion?

Boris Island

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, says Yes.

We share the mayor’s passion for London, as well as his desire to maintain its status as the best-connected city in the world.

But what is needed above all is certainty that additional airport capacity will be delivered.

And while ambitious, the Thames Estuary airport option always presented too many environmental and cost challenges to be deliverable.

Britain now has a clear choice: expand Gatwick and support genuine competition, greater choice and lower fares for passengers and businesses, or expand Heathrow and return to the stale monopoly of the past, where the cost of going on holiday, travelling for business and exporting goods will rise.

Gatwick’s plans can be delivered quicker, at low cost and low risk. This option can also free-up hub capacity at Heathrow, providing the UK with two successful, world-class airports.

The expansion debate is now a two-horse race – realistically, only Gatwick can get the UK over the finish line.

Daniel Moylan, the mayor of London’s chief aviation adviser, says No.

The Thames Estuary proposal is the only one that will provide enough capacity to meet the forecast increase in demand for flights, and allow us to win valuable routes to the powerful new economies in the Far East and South America.

It is also the only option that would create 336,000 jobs across the UK, contributing £92bn annually to UK GDP by 2050 – dwarfing any potential contribution by Heathrow or Gatwick.

With London’s population forecast to rise by 37 per cent to 11.3m people by 2050, a regenerated Heathrow site could provide desperately needed homes for up to 190,000 people.

Instead, the Commission intends to waste its days considering a new runway at Heathrow that no government will ever approve, or a new runway at Gatwick that would offer negligible benefits.

That is a lose-lose situation, and consideration will soon return to the only credible solution, which is to build a new hub airport to the east of London.