Published: 09:32, 02 September 2014 |
Updated: 13:07, 02 September 2014
Ambitious plans for a four-runway Thames Estuary hub airport have officially been rejected today in a move that has delighted campaigners.
Announcing his decision, Sir Howard said: "We are not persuaded that a very large airport in the Thames Estuary is the right answer to London's and the UK's connectivity needs.
"While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London's.
"The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount..." - Sir Howard Davies
"There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary. The economic disruption would be huge and there are environmental hurdles which it may prove impossible, or very time-consuming to surmount.
"Even the least ambitious version of the scheme would cost £70 to £90 billion with much greater public expenditure involved than in other options - probably some £30 to £60billion in total.
"There will be those who argue that the commission lacks ambition and imagination. We are ambitious for the right solution.
"The need for additional capacity is urgent. We need to focus on solutions which are deliverable, affordable, and set the right balance for the future of aviation in the UK.
"The commission received and developed a substantial body of evidence that it considered very carefully over a number of months before reaching this decision.
"Alongside today's announcement the commission has published a paper in which it sets out in more detail the reasoning behind its decision.
"The commission will now continue its appraisal of the three shortlisted proposals for additional capacity and will publish the appraisal for public consultation in the autumn."
It last year short-listed the Heathrow and Gatwick options - but said it would examine the estuary option.
Several reports have since been published showing the possible environmental cost, with council leaders, MPs, residents and environmental campaign groups all voicing their opposition to a scheme they believed would be too costly and damaging to the area.
"The cost to the taxpayer was never fully explained and it would have resulted in the mass destruction of habitat and wildlife that could never be replaced..." - Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers
Sheppey and Sittingbourne MP Gordon Henderson said: "I'm absolutely delighted, but not surprised.
"Building an airport in this area would lead to environmental destruction on an unprecedented scale..." - Kent Wildlife Trust
Thames gateway officer Greg Hitchcock, from the trust, said: "Building an airport in this area would lead to environmental destruction on an unprecedented scale.
"The damage caused by these proposals is totally unjustifiable, both morally and economically. We are glad the Airports Commission has ignored the political posturing and applied some common sense."
Reacting angrily to the rejection of an estuary airport, Mr Johnson said it "remains the only credible solution" and vowed to continue the fight.
He said the remaining options "will fail to provide the global connectivity that can only come from a large, four-runway hub airport".
"In one myopic stroke, the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century and consigned their work to the long list of vertically filed reports on aviation expansion..." - Boris Johnson
The mayor said he "remains convinced a future government will return to plans for a hub airport on a site to the east of London, and any future recommendation made by the Davies Commission will be irrelevant".
Mr Johnson said: "In one myopic stroke, the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century and consigned their work to the long list of vertically filed reports on aviation expansion that are gathering dust on a shelf in Whitehall.
"Gatwick is not a long term solution and Howard Davies must explain to the people of London how he can possibly envisage that an expansion of Heathrow, which would create unbelievable levels of noise, blight and pollution, is a better idea than a new airport to the east of London that he himself admits is visionary, and which would create the jobs and growth this country needs to remain competitive.
"It remains the only credible solution, any process that fails to include it renders itself pretty much irrelevant, and I'm absolutely certain that it is the option that will eventually be chosen."
He said: "This is an important juncture in the aviation debate because now Britain's choice is clear; expand Gatwick and support genuine competition, lower fares and greater choice for passengers or expand Heathrow and return to the stale monopoly of the past and watch the cost of going on holiday, travelling for business and exporting goods and service go up."
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