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Thames Estuary airport could be built 'in 14 years'

A section of the Thames Estuary airport plan designed by Lord Foster

by Dan Bloom

A massive hub airport in the Thames Estuary could be planned and built in just 14 years, according to the architects of one of the most high-profile schemes.

The report for Foster + Partners claimed an entire airport could take just two years longer than building a third runway at Heathrow.

Robbie Owen, from Bircham Dyson Bell, the law firm behind the report, told a national newspaper: "This assumption that runway three is a quick win in terms of planning and policy process, let alone construction timescale, is incorrect."

But Medway Council’s regeneration chief slammed the 14-year claim as unrealistic.

Cllr Jane Chitty (Con), pictured below, said: "Look at all the major infrastructure projects in this country that have not nearly been as complex as this, and have taken longer.

Cllr Jane Chitty
Cllr Jane Chitty

"There is a never-ending list of problems with developing Grain or the Hoo Peninsula that would have to be overcome before you could even start."

The claims came amid a flurry of headlines yesterday on expanding Britain’s air capacity, ahead of a formal consultation by the government.

Still in the running are four runways on the Isle of Grain by Foster + Partners and Boris Island, a floating hub in the Thames estuary.

George Osborne revealed yesterday the government wants to speed up planning decisions, such as on an airport.

And the Prime Minister, together with Nick Clegg, is said to be considering setting up an independent commission to rule on air capacity.

Analysts say that would give the government an excuse to make a dramatic U-turn on its pledge not to build a third runway at Heathrow - a U-turn the chancellor hinted at yesterday.

Within hours, the foreign secretary William Hague was reiterating there would be no U-turn.

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