London mayor Boris Johnson has outlined his plans for a new London airport to boost the UK’s air capacity as the country falls "further and further behind" in the global aviation race: a four-runway hub on the Isle of Grain as proposed by architect Lord Foster.
Speaking at a press conference, Johnson proposed the inner estuary hub as an alternative to an expansion of Heathrow. He said the government should also consider his original pet project, an outer estuary airport designed by Gensler and dubbed "Boris Island", and an expansion of Stansted airport in Essex as other options.
At Mayor of London presser where Boris says only 50 will suffer from island runway airport solution pic.twitter.com/1kq98zOWXA— Ben Priechenfried (@benprie) July 15, 2013
Johnson said the Isle of Grain plan has some slight advantages, situated near the London Gateway - a deepwater port and logistics hub on the north bank due to open in December - and with its potential for close links to the capital - the plan includes a new train line that would take passengers into Waterloo in 26 minutes. However, he has not yet given up on Boris island.
Boris admits to having "slightly deprecated" the outer Estuary airport option recently - but it remains one of his three favourite options— Marion Dakers (@mvdakers) July 15, 2013
The London mayor has been a vocal opponent of expansion at Heathrow. He said Britain's largest airport is limited by noise, pollution and congestion and that there is "no evidence" a third or fourth runway at Heathrow would be cheaper than a new hub.
The Isle of Grain project would cost around £65bn, would support 375,000 jobs by 2050, and eventually cater for 180m customers per year. Under current plans, the airport would open in 2029. But speaking to BBC Radio Kent, Huw Thomas of Foster and Partners said that the project could take just seven years from the first shovels in the ground to completion.
1/3 Launching 3 options for airport expansion, Isle of Grain, outer estuary site & Stansted - all superior to Heathrow— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) July 15, 2013
2/3 4 runway, 24 hour hub to east of London only way to remain globally competitive - Heathrow environmentally impossible— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) July 15, 2013
3/3 Hub to the east will quadruple access to emerging markets, worth £742 billion to UK by 2050, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) July 15, 2013
For the alternative argument on why we should expand Heathrow, here's Mark Bostock's take in City A.M.