Thames Estuary airport not feasible: Commons report
Designs for a floating
Thames Estuary airport designed by architects Gensler
A Thames Estuary airport would not be commercially viable
and would require a substantial public subsidy.
A report prepared for the House of Commons Transport Select
Committee deals a huge blow to the project, claiming it would be a
It says that because the value of the investment is
“significantly negative” an investor would be likely not to touch
A public subsidy of £10-£30 billion would be needed to get the
airport built, the report by economics consultancy Oxera
The government could have to provide funds in an effort to
encourage investors to put their hands in their pockets, the
But, the document adds, politicians might decide to fork up the
cash if it concludes that the social and economic benefits outweigh
A cross-section of Lord
Foster's plans for a new Thames Estuary airport
The report’s authors have calculated the value of a new airport
at £15.6 billion by calculating revenues from passenger charges and
taking out operating costs.
In today’s money it would have costs of £43.7 billion, leaving a
significant gap that would need to be made up.
If Heathrow were to close as the result of a Thames Estuary
airport being built, the final compensation bill could be as high
as £20 billion.
The news comes as many of the people behind plans for an airport
prepare to give evidence to the committee on Monday.
Huw Thomas of Foster + Partners, the architects behind plans for
the world’s biggest airport on the Isle of Grain, will answer
questions on the proposal, which has an estimated cost of £50
John Olsen, who is leading a consortium eyeing up Cliffe as the
site of a three-runway airport, is also due to face MPs.
Medway Council’s communities chief Robin Cooper and Paul
Outhwaite from the RSPB will make the case against the idea shortly
Kent is at the heart of plans for the future of aviation, with
key schemes put forward by architect Lord Foster for Grain; London
Mayor Boris Johnson for an island in the Thames Estuary; John Olsen
for Cliffe; a tethered island off Sheppey put forward by
London Britannia and a scheme for Goodwin Sands by architects
Anti-airport campaigner George Crozer welcomed the report’s
He said: “It’s somebody else agreeing with what we’re saying.
We’ve always said it’s too expensive.”
Clive Lawrence from Demand Regeneration in North Kent, which
believes politicians have been too quick to come out against an
airport, said he was “astonished” upon hearing the contents.
He said: “There are seven or eight groups, most of which claim
to be backed by investors, saying it’s viable.
"I would look at the evidence with great caution; people can
always find reasons for not doing things.”
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