Boris reignites row over delay to airport plans

BORIS Johnson yesterday admitted that a new airport in the Thames estuary would require £30bn of public funding – as he launched an attack on the government for paying “lamentable attention” to aviation policy.

The Mayor told business leaders at City Hall that he was “hugely concerned” by the government’s independent review into airport expansion, which will not report until 2015. He said the delay “sets a course for economic catastrophe”.

“This continued inertia is being fully exploited by our European rivals who already possess mega hub airports that they intend to use to erode our advantage...the urgency of the situation and the lamentable attention that the government has paid to this pressing issue has forced me to accelerate the work that I will do to develop a credible solution.”

The timing of the attack – just days before the Conservative party conference begins in Birmingham – once again raises questions about Johnson’s leadership ambitions and relationship with Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Mayor has long preferred a new airport in the Thames estuary to expansion at Heathrow and yesterday revealed that “Boris Island” would cost £75-80bn, with the public footing more than a third of the bill.

However a report issued today by the think tank Policy Exchange says an estuary airport is illogical, due to its location and cost of construction.

The report instead proposes building a new four-runway airport over the M25 and reservoirs to the west of the current Heathrow site or, should that be politically unfeasible, expanding Luton airport to take on hub status.