Airport Commission sinks £70bn Boris Island plan as too risky

LONDON mayor Boris Johnson yesterday refused to throw in the towel over his plans for a Thames Estuary airport, despite the scheme being grounded by the Airport Commission for being too risky.

Undaunted by the crushing blow to his proposal, the mayor hit back yesterday against the commission and its head, Sir Howard Davies. Johnson predicted major obstacles to other airport expansion plans at Heathrow and Gatwick that would make a reconsidera­tion of his Thames Estuary option likely in future.

He said: “In one myopic stroke, the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century – a new airport to the east of London remains the only credible solution, and I’m absolutely certain that it is the option that will eventually be chosen.”

However, in rejecting the plan the commission highlighted higher costs estimated to be in the range of at least £70bn-£90bn, longer average journey times for rail transport links to London and environmental concerns, including birdstrikes. Sir Howard said: “To roll the dice on a very risky project, where delays and overruns are highly likely, would be reckless.”

Rival airports Heathrow and Gatwick quickly sought to boast of their plans yesterday.

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Britain needs a successful hub airport to compete in the global race for jobs and growth, and Heathrow is now the only hub left in the race.”

However, Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick is the only option left on the table that can be can be delivered faster than any other option, and at low cost and low risk, without the significant environmental impacts expansion at Heathrow would inflict on London.”