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'Airport could be good for Medway': Boris Johnson

A cross-section of Lord Foster's plans for a new Thames Estuary airport

A Thames Estuary airport would give Medway hope, according to Boris Johnson.

In an exclusive interview with the KM Group, the London Mayor urged people in the Towns to not just listen to the “naysayers”, who say such a project is unnecessary, unaffordable and potentially devastating to the environment.

He said: “It would be the single biggest creator of jobs and growth.

"We’re not resolved on any particular option at the moment, but what I would say to people in the area is don’t just listen to the naysayers.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, with a copy of the Medway Messenger.“Think about the arguments, think about the immense capacity of this scheme to offer jobs, growth, hope and a fantastic amount of excitement to the area.”

Opponents claim there are numerous arguments against an airport.

Among the claims they make are that thousands of people would lose their homes and the risk of a bird bringing down a plane in the estuary would be higher than at any airport in the UK.

But Mr Johnson (pictured right with a copy of the Medway Messenger) said when asked about people losing their homes: “There’ll be very very few, hardly any of them at all I don’t think.”

On the risk of bird strike he sounded a confident note, claiming: “Bird strike we can sort out easily.

“The greater risk, to be fair, is not bird strike, it’s the need to deal with the estuarial populations within the area covered by the European Union Habitats Directive.

“It’s not the strike, it’s what you do with the breeding populations and we’re absolutely sure we can do stuff that will comply with the habitats directive and give the birds the habitats they need.”

Before getting on his bike and pedaling into the night, Mr Johnson added he was more than happy to visit Medway in the future: “Of course, but we’ll have to wait and see which option we think is best but if we do go for that option then of course I will.”

"it would be the single biggest creator of jobs and growth" – london mayor boris johnson, on the prospect of an estuary airport
He was speaking after an appearance before the House of Commons Transport Select Committee yesterday.

The committee is conducting an inquiry into the country’s aviation capacity, and the mayor faced questions from MPs about the controversial project.

The committee’s inquiry is separate from a commission set up by the government, which is due to issue an interim report this year narrowing down the options.

Its head is the economist Howard Davies.

A final report recommending whether or not to build a new airport will be published after the next election in 2015.

Mr Johnson told the committee a Thames Estuary airport would cost £70-£80 billion, once compensation for reducing the size of Heathrow was factored in.

£25 billion of this figure would be public money, he said and added: “I think over time that would readily pay for itself.”

During the session he joked: “If only I was mayor of the south east”, a wish anti-airport campaigners in the public seating behind him will be thankful will never be realised.

What do you think? Join the debate by adding your comments belowAlthough the mayor has been a key backer of a Thames Estuary airport since being elected in 2008 – so much so the idea has earned the nickname “Boris Island” – there have been signs in recent months that he has been turning towards Stansted as a more feasible solution.

Mr Johnson is against a third runway at Heathrow, having said previously he would "die in a ditch" fighting against such a prospect.

He said yesterday he was “equidistant” about whether he supported building an airport on the Hoo Peninsula, out in the estuary or expanding Stansted.

This week it was announced that Mr Johnson has appointed a team of experts to examine the options in more detail.

The findings will be submitted to the Davies commission.

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