Thames Estuary airport plans discussed at the Commons
Nine villages would disappear
under one of the plans for a Thames Estuary airport, according to
Medway Council’s communities chief.
Robin Cooper took the opponents’
arguments against the idea to the House of Commons yesterday when
he gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee’s aviation
He said the villages would cease to
exist under Lord Foster’s plan for the world’s biggest airport on
the Hoo Peninsula – which has a population of 23,000.
Mr Cooper added: “How you would
relocate those people I don’t know.”
Paul Outhwaite from the RSPB, which is
also opposed to an airport, said he didn’t think it was possible to
compensate for the loss of bird habitats elsewhere in the estuary
or the UK.
He said: “It’s just incredibly
difficult to think of a way an airport in the Thames Estuary could
go ahead without breaking environmental laws.”
The committee also heard from a number
of people who have put forward plans for an airport.
Huw Thomas, from Foster + Partners,
which is behind the Grain proposal criticised by Mr Cooper, said
their version would take seven years to build once planning
permission had been granted.
It could be reached in 30 minutes by
train from St Pancras, with the road and rail links required
costing £4 billion. He put the cost of reclaiming land for the
airport at £3 billion.
An aerial image of Lord
Foster's plan for a Thames Estuary hub airport
Mr Thomas dismissed warnings the
sunken US warship SS Richard Montgomery could pose a risk to the
construction of an airport.
The vessel sank off the coast of
Sheerness in 1944 with thousands of tonnes of explosives on
He said the ship had nothing to do
with the Grain airport and claimed: “We will not disturb the
Montgomery in construction.
“If there’s a risk of collapse we
believe the airport would be adequately protected.”
Up until now little has been known
about John Olsen’s plan for a three-runway airport at Cliffe.
Mr Olsen, who is the head of the
Independent Aviation Advisory Group, told MPs his project would
cost £12 billion and take 11 years to build.
The former Cathay Pacific executive
said Gravesend would become a transport hub for the airport, with
dedicated trains taking passengers from the town to the airport
Mr Olsen added investors were
interested in his project, and he had already had discussions with
one of them.
The architecture firm Gensler unveiled
futuristic designs for four floating runways in the estuary last
Ian Mulcahey from the firm told the
committee that would cost £25-£30 billion, although he stressed
that should come with a “serious health warning” and could
The “beauty” of an estuary location,
he said, was that “there were fewer numbers of people there”.
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