Thames Estuary airport plans to come under spotlight
A cross-section of Lord
Foster's plans for a new Thames Estuary airport
The case for a Thames Estuary airport
is to be put under the spotlight by a powerful group of business
chiefs and council leaders in the region.
The South East Local Enterprise
Partnership (SELEP) is to commission a major study into airports in
The study will consider "the optimum
location for a potential hub airport" in the area.
The LEP is a group of business and
council representatives set up by the government to steer job
creation and boost investment in the region.
It has identified the Thames Gateway
as a key area for its aim of helping create 113,000 jobs in North
Kent and south Essex over the next 20 years.
Both Kent County Council and Medway
council are represented on the LEP and their opposition to airport
plans for north Kent are well known. Some business leaders,
however, are supportive of the idea because of its potential to
create thousands of jobs.
The LEP’s study could be influential
in making the case for or against the plans for a new hub airport
and is likely to be a major contribution to the government’s
consultation around the issue.
As well as the proposals for a new
airport, the study will also focus on how best to increase capacity
around the existing airports over the next decade.
It will examine the possibility of
increasing capacity at Manston Airport in Thanet.
In a four-page statement on the study,
the LEP says unless something is done to improve capacity,
businesses will relocate from the south east to northern
"Already London Heathrow is losing
routes to European competitors due to the overcrowding."
The comment echoes the arguments put
forward by London Mayor Boris Johnson in advancing his case for an
aiport in the Thames Estuary.
However, the LEP says there are
question marks over all the proposals for the Thames Estuary
airport, saying all pose "significant environmental and logistical
problems" and "are unlikely to be brought forward in the next
decade by which time the airports of the south east will have
exceeded their capacity".
The LEP says a more detailed study of
a hub airport will be carried out if there is evidence that
existing capacity in the south east is insufficient.
A Medway Council spokesman said: "Medway welcomes the LEP
study on airport capacity in the South East. We are not in the
least bit convinced of the need for a new hub airport as promoted
by Boris Johnson or Sir Norman Foster.
"The study will see what capacity we already have
available and how that can be better joined up rather than look at
pie in the sky ideas, which are unlikely to ever see the light of
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