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Thousands would lose homes under Isle of Grain airport plan, London Mayor Boris Johnson's study reveals

15 July 2013
by Alan McGuinness

Lord Foster wants to build a four-runway airport at Grain. Image Foster and Partners

Lord Foster's plans for a four-runway airport at Grain have provoked a strong reaction

Two thousand people would lose their homes under plans for the world's biggest airport at Grain, according to a study commissioned by Boris Johnson.

The London Mayor said today his preferred option for expanding the country's aviation capacity was to build an airport there after widespread reports yesterday.

According to Mr Johnson, this is close enough to the capital to offer quick transport access and planes could take off and land over water – affecting a smaller number of people.

Today the mayor unveiled the results of a year-long investigation by an independent group he appointed to look at the issue.

It reveals:

  • 31,500 people would be affected by noise from the airport
  • It could open by 2029
  • The airport would create 134,000 jobs, 24,000 during construction
  • In the south east, a further 12,000-34,000 jobs would be created

Mr 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."

In an interview with the KM Group earlier this year, he said the airport would give Medway "hope".

London Mayor Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson wants an airport built in the Thames Estuary

The other two options he will submit to the Airports Commission are a floating airport in the estuary itself and expanding Stansted into a four-runway hub.

The commission was established last year to help the government decide what to do about the country’s aviation capacity.

Lord Foster’s firm Foster and Partners are due to formally submit their plan on Friday.

The Thames Hub would have four runways, handle around 100 million passengers a year and operate 24 hours a day.

Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers (Con)

Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers (Con)

In response to Mr Johnson, Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers (Con) said he had failed to listen to the "huge number of people who have said that placing an airport in north Kent, on or near the Thames Estuary, is a complete non-starter".

He added: "We will continue to work with Kent County, Council, the RSPB and many others to drive through the message why North Kent and the Thames Estuary are totally unsuitable for a huge hub airport.

"There are no roads or rail lines there to support an airport that would carry up to 150m passengers a year, and putting these in place would cost the taxpayer tens of billions of pounds - a needless waste of money, especially when you consider it would be on the wrong side of London for most."

Cllr Chambers claimed any airport in Medway would need a new city the size of Manchester to be built to cope with influx of workers.

"The fact that anyone would seek to do this on an area of global scientific and environmental significance, which is home to 300,000 migrating wildfowl, simply beggars belief," he said.

Campaign group Demand Regeneration in North Kent (DRINK) went along to the mayor's announcement this morning.

The group claims politicians in Kent have been too quick to come out against an airport and have not thought of the potential benefits.

Campaign director and Gillingham businessman Clive Lawrence said: "Our view now is that the time is readily approaching when Grain will be chosen.

"Our politicians need to wake up because otherwise they'll be left behind, and they'll leave our communities behind. That would be a shocking thing for them to do."

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