Mayor of London Boris Johnson is to drop his controversial support for an estuary airport off Kent, at least until completion of a regional review, according to a council chief.
Kent County Council leader Paul Carter revealed on Wednesday that he has met Mr Johnson and agreed a new approach. This would probably be revealed later in the week in a statement that would “bury” the idea.
“I had a good meeting with Boris Johnson last week,” he told around 200 business and civic chiefs at the Kent Partnership annual conference in Maidstone.
Cllr Carter said: “Hopefully on Friday we will be issuing a joint press release which will bury this idea of an estuary airport until such time as we’ve looked at all the airports in the south east.”
Mr Johnson provoked massive opposition in Medway and other parts of Kent by backing the offshore airport instead of further expansion of Heathrow.
Residents and environmentalists said it would be a disaster, and local councils denounced the scheme. However, some business people claimed it would be good for the local economy by creating thousands of jobs.
Cllr Carter believes airport expansion should be at Manston and said it would be part of a south east review. He would be “putting Manston firmly in the pot as a location that really wants aviation growth”.
He recognised that access to Manston was a key issue and he was pitching for improved rail connections on domestic high-speed trains from Ashford to Manston that would cut the London-Manston journey time to less than an hour.
If Manston achieved its target of up to seven million passengers it would create thousands of jobs. Every million passengers created 1,500 jobs.
“If we can get Manston up to 6.5m - 7m passengers in the short or medium term, it will make a difference to the economy of East Kent.”