Thames Estuary Airport (1)

MQT on 2014-09-17
Session date: 
September 17, 2014
Question By: 
Tony Arbour
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Given the Airports Commission's decision not to shortlist the Thames Estuary Airport, how will you continue to fight for the only realistic alternative to Heathrow expansion?


Answer for Thames Estuary Airport (1)

Answer for Thames Estuary Airport (1)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Thank you.  The Davies Commission [Airports Commission] has said what it has to say.  I do not agree with them.  That does not mean that I am necessarily at war with Sir Howard [Sir Howard Davies, Chair, Airports Commission] or anything like that.  That is where he has come to.  In the end they will have to come back to other ideas.  Just watch this space.  The work that TfL has done has been absolutely invaluable.  It is very, very high quality stuff.  

The most significant thing that [Sir Howard] Davies said was he made two interesting points.  The first was that the Estuary solution was the one that delivered by far the greatest prospect of economic growth and regeneration.  The second thing he said was there was no single deal breaker; there was no single overwhelming obstacle.  He just felt, having talked to his colleagues around Government, that it was the string of risks together that made him inclined to rule it out.  I think what they will do is they will go for Gatwick or something like that.  I think they will go for another runway at Gatwick.  That will not be the solution and we will circle back to where we are.  I think it highly unlikely that Heathrow is politically deliverable.  

Tony Arbour AM:  I am sorry to hear you think that any discussion on this is pointless and fruitless.  My constituents and the constituents you are shortly going to represent in Hillingdon will be appalled by the fact, clearly, notwithstanding what you say about Gatwick.  Those of us who live under the Heathrow flight paths, apparently soon to be extended, in my anticipation of what [Sir Howard] Davies comes up with and has his way, will be very disappointed in the interim between the publication of the report thus far and the final publication.  We are not still there - and in particular you are not still there whilst you are Mayor - battling for the only long-term solution. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am.  I see, if that is what you mean, we are.  This has not gone away.  Sorry, I hope I was clear.  In the end the Estuary will, by the sheer ineluctable facts of geography, come back on the table.  It is the best long-term solution.  Do not worry.  We are still there. 

Tony Arbour AM:  Nevertheless, in the interim the residents of Hillingdon and Richmond and those other boroughs under the flight path, know that the Davies proposals are only sticking plaster because we have had it in year in and year out. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You are totally right. 

Tony Arbour AM:  We must not be silent on the matter.  It is quite interesting, Mr Mayor ‑‑

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am not being silent. 

Tony Arbour AM:  ‑‑ and I wonder if you would care to offer an observation on this.  One of the alleged major political parties in this country, as its airport policy for London, has said there shall be no expansion of airports at all.  In saying that, they have offered no possible suggestion as to how London and indeed the southeast could possibly cope with the extension of the demand for people to travel by air.  Under those circumstances, do you think that the Liberal party in London has betrayed those diminishing numbers of people who vote for them? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I do, but I do not think that anybody will be particularly surprised that this is the policy of the party that pretended to oppose tuition fees and then did a massive U-turn.  As soon as the leading party in Government can make its mind up on this issue, I have absolutely no doubt that their lapdog, Clegg [Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg], will simply snap to and do whatever he is called upon.  I do not think anybody can be in any conceivable doubt about that.  What the Liberal Democrats think about this matter, I am afraid, is of vast global irrelevance.