Mayor of London sets out the three possible locations for a new hub airport – none of them is Heathrow

15 July 2013

The Mayor of London has set out a detailed vision for transforming London into the greatest economic powerhouse of the 21st century, with a new airport to complement the new seaport about to open in the Thames estuary, new road and rail connections to boost the economy of east London, Kent and Essex and the opportunity for a new town in west London housing up to 250,000 people on land currently occupied by Heathrow Airport.

Speaking at City Hall today (15 July) the Mayor said that connectivity was essential to participation in the global economy and to ensuring that a city with a growing population could offer jobs and prosperity to its people. He outlined the details of an extensive, independently peer-reviewed investigation that has been carried out by his team at Transport for London over the last year into the potential options for new aviation capacity. This demonstrates conclusively that there are three optimal locations for a new airport: on the Isle of Grain in north Kent; at Stansted; or on an artificial island in the middle of the Thames estuary. He announced that he would be submitting detailed proposals for all three sites to the Davies Commission later in the week.

He also revealed the enormous potential economic benefits of building a new hub airport, which he confirmed would be able to support more than 375,000 new jobs by 2050 and add £742bn to the value of goods and services produced in the UK.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us and putting themselves in a position to eat London’s breakfast, lunch and dinner by constructing mega airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of. Those cities have moved heaven and earth to locate their airports away from their major centres of population, in areas where they have been able to build airports with four runways or more. For London and the wider UK to remain competitive we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth. Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow, which already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, is quite simply crackers.”

New analysis released by the Mayor reveals that only a four runway hub airport would allow London to reach the emerging markets of the world. It would potentially quadruple the number of destinations London serves in China and South America, destinations which can currently only be reached from the UK by travelling through rival hubs in Europe, and add another fifty per cent more destinations in the United States.

A single hub airport would also restore domestic routes to nine cities across the UK, many of which are currently only served by Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, which already increasingly boasts of being the UK’s leading hub airport. Restoring those routes would allow the UK’s entrepreneurs and manufacturers to trade with the rest of the world regardless of where they were based.

The Mayor also addressed the future of west London once Heathrow airport was moved to a new site to the east of the capital. With four tube stations, Crossrail and National Rail connections, and the space and infrastructure to generate up to 100,000 new homes that London badly needs, the site would offer hope to millions of Londoners increasingly priced out of decent accommodation.  The scale would be similar to developing an entire new borough of London in one of the most dynamic, economically vibrant and accessible areas of the capital; with the potential to attract tens of thousands of jobs in an array of different sectors. While some workers at Heathrow would relocate to the new airport, many others would find work on a newly developed Heathrow. A new hub airport, in a proper location, would release the huge development potential that is buried beneath the tarmac at Heathrow, creating thousands of new jobs.

Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London’s chief adviser on aviation, said: “Heathrow can never solve our problems and our studies show that we’re better off with a new site.  The immense noise, pollution and congestion that would result from expanding an airport located in the heart of our suburbs would potentially devastate the greatest city in the world. Whereas the three potential sites for a new hub airport portray a compelling vision for the infrastructure, the economy and the international competitiveness that London and the wider UK could benefit from if we take the clear opportunities that are in front of us. A new airport would be accompanied by world-class public transport connectivity, it would have the resilience to withstand the worst the UK’s weather has to offer; and it would have the capacity to save you from being stranded in a never ending spiral of aircraft over the suburbs."

John Bridge OBE, Chief Executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, welcomed the Mayor’s proposals for a new hub airport: “Heathrow has not provided the global connectivity we need to drive growth and jobs in the eastern region and we support calls for a new four runway airport with good surface access in order to ensure the greater international connectivity  we need to meet the demands of our growing economic standing. This would also enable local business to reach important new markets in countries like China which is crucial to the future international success of the area.”

The chairman of Demand Regeneration in North Kent, Neville Gaunt, said: "A Thames estuary airport promises to be the best thing ever to happen to north Kent.  It would transform the lives of local people by generating employment, careers and opportunities for today's and future generations and thereby greatly improving living standards and the quality of life for thousands of families and young people.

"The Mayor has shown great strategic vision and leadership on this vital debate over the future of UK plc. Infrastructure projects of this magnitude are fundamental to continuing the growth and prosperity of Britain and DRINK wishes him every success in persuading the Government to seize the opportunity to place the country ahead of the rest of Europe."

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

The three sites proposed by the Mayor have been sifted through a rigorous assessment process involving a comprehensive set of criteria and independently peer reviewed by leading academics and technical experts. Those options are:

• The Isle of Grain, on the Hoo Peninsula: The inner estuary site is close enough to London to provide smooth and fast access by public transport, yet ideally located so as to allow take-off and landing over water and so impact on as small a population as possible. It sits in an area with a strong industrial history, and is across the water from the new DP World London Gateway Port. A new hub airport there would lay the foundation for a future logistics heartland of the UK.

• An Outer Estuary site: An airport on an artificial island off the Kent coast would remove all problems of noise pollution and give the airport the freedom to operate in whatever way it needed in order to maximise the UK’s connectivity and economic benefits.

• Stansted airport: Developing a major four-runway airport at Stansted would have the attraction of building on existing infrastructure and being sited in a relatively sparsely populated region, Stansted has none of the environmental or wildlife issues that would need to be overcome in the estuary.

The Mayor’s independent peer review group has been asked to provide independent advice and expertise to the Mayor, in a personal capacity. It comprises the following individuals, who possess a broad mix of planning, economic, environmental and aviation expertise:

• Chris Cain, Principal, Aviation Strategy and Policy Consultancy

• Mike Forster, Director, Forster Associates

• John Green, Managing Director, Face Group

• Professor Sir Peter Hall, Bartlett Professor of Urban Regeneration and Planning, UCL

• Professor Paul Hooper, Chair of Environmental Management and Sustainability, MMU

• Bridget Rosewell, Senior Partner, Volterra Partners

• Bob Schumacher, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, for a leading airline

• Roy Vandermeer OBE QC, Inspector, Heathrow Terminal 5 Inquiry

An executive summary of the submissions to the Davies Commission and a shortlisting paper are available from www.newairportforlondon.com.