Londoners should be able to decide themselves whether airport capacity is expanded at Heathrow or elsewhere, Conservative London mayoral candidate Syed Kamall has said.
The future of aviation capacity in London is for the people of London to decide, and should not be left to “unelected bureaucrats and vested interests to decide between Heathrow, Gatwick and a new airport in the Thames Estuary", Kamall told City A.M..
“For too long, eight-and-a-half million Londoners have been ignored in this process,” Kamall said.
“But they are the ones who are having to put up with the aircraft noise - and they are also the ones who need the economic benefits so we can be sure of London’s future.”
So far, Kamall has said the debate was concentrated on Gatwick and Heathrow, but there is a wider conversation to be had.
"We need to be ambitious and we need to be visionary to have a premier global hub, not just for five or 10 years but for the future. Airports across Europe are filling up and there is a need for a new European hub, which London could build."
While a proponent of the Thames Estuary airport, which Kamall said has been costed at £20bn and could be entirely funded by the "private sector, saving taxpayer money", he said it is time to let the people who will be affected decide.
Personally, I believe an estuary airport would hugely improve the quality of life for many Londoners, whose are currently blighted by aircraft noise. This is a solution that will keep London in the top-league of world cities for the next 50 years, rather than the sticking-plaster solutions that are currently on the table.
But it should be up to London to decide - as Londoners you will get the choice if you elect me Mayor.
Kamall’s plan for a direct referendum comes two months after the long awaited Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, recommended increasing capacity at Heathrow airport by building a third runway. David Cameron has said his government would make a decision on the recommendation late this year.
A fortune was spent on report after report, and millions on the Davies Commission - which got nowhere, and was not ambitious enough, Kamall said.
"If the government chooses Heathrow, we won't see the end of it - we will have judicial review after judicial review and millions and millions more will be spent. By holding a referendum, we will sort this out once and for all by consulting the people who have the right to decide - the people of London.”