Consultation plan for Estuary airport

DAVID Cameron is considering opening a formal consultation on building an airport in the Thames Estuary.

A consultation, which could be announced in the coming weeks, would be the clearest sign yet that the Prime Minister is enthusiastic about the scheme.

Downing Street insisted last night that no decisions have been taken on the airport, which could be opposed by the Liberal Democrats. Cameron is believed to be supportive of initial plans for the Thames Estuary scheme, which would cost up to £50bn, because of the economic boost it could provide alongside the £32.7bn new high speed rail line, which will link London to the North.

The government has ruled out expanding London’s existing airports, but Boris Johnson, the Mayor, has lobbied for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary because “doing nothing will lead to economic stagnation”.

Johnson has said that Heathrow is operating at 98 per cent capacity and does not have the ability to add routes to growing markets in the Far East, resulting in foreign airlines going to rival European airports.