My MP, Ben Gummer, last week alerted me in one his tweets to an announcement by Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, showing again his support for a new Thames airport. But this time the idea is a bit more specific.
Boris has teamed up with Lord Foster, the brilliant architect who designed the marvellous Willis Building in Ipswich and has designed both the Hong Kong International Airport and the terminal building at Stansted Airport so he knows one or two things about designing airports!
Foster’s proposal would see a new UK London airport built on the Isle of Grain in the Thames estuary, Kent. A railway station would also be built underneath the terminal building to cope with 300,000 passengers a day and would link with Crossrail.
I’ve always been a fan of all things aviation: airports, aeroplanes, the history of manned flight etc. Since 9/11 travelling by plane is a stressful experience but putting that to one side aviation technologies have made the world smaller and allowed people to visit places they could never imagine visiting even 50 years ago, which must be celebrated.
Aviation has also brought great wealth, in terms of enabling trade, to the masses and is the reason why the Government needs to pull its finger out and get on with planning and building a new London airport before further economic damage is done to Great Britain. Both London and Gatwick will reach capacity in 20 years and, quite frankly, Heathrow should never have been allowed to expand from the hut and a small airfield it was in 1929 to the third busiest airport in the world it is today. Not just because the airport is IN suburban west London but because the flight path is over central London, which I believe makes Heathrow the only airport in the world which has its flight path over a major city.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much trust in the Coalition actually doing something about this any time soon. In fact the Conservative Party manifesto in the 2010 General Election said the party was against airport expansion. The new transport secretary, Justine Greening, is yet to comment on the new Thames estuary airport but she is expected to publish a draft aviation policy for consultation in the spring. An important point is, as Labour succinctly put it, there is no money left so private foreign investment would be needed to build the airport.
The fact environmentalist Ben Gummer is for the new airport is a good sign and hopefully the Conservative leadership’s position against airport expansion takes a different course soon or we will only make our dire economic outlook even worse.