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Medway council leader fears Boris Johnson could revive estuary airport idea

By Paul Francis

The leader of Medway council has expressed fears that Boris Johnson could revive his controversial plan for an estuary airport - despite assurances to MPs that the idea has been shelved.

Cllr Alan Jarrett said he was not convinced the Tory leadership candidate - who is widely expected to become Prime Minister this week - had given up on his airport plans.

Speaking on the latest edition of KMTV's “Paul On Politics” Cllr Jarrett said: “It would not surprise me, it is one of my big worries. I know Kelly Tolhurst MP has raised it with him and received assurances. Now whether those assurances are worth anything, we will have to wait and see.

Medway Council leader Alan Jarrett
Medway Council leader Alan Jarrett

"But if we have to fight that battle again, not just in Medway but more widely across Kent, which we did cross-party before, we will. Personally, I think there are bigger fish to fry.

“There are a whole raft of domestic issues that have been virtually on hold for three years that need addressing, not least the state of our public finances.”

Councillor Vince Maple, the leader of the Labour opposition group on Medway Council, said he too had concerns Mr Johnson would come back to promoting the idea.

“He has made his promise but he's broken promises before. I am genuinely concerned I thought the issue was dead and buried but I think it is back on the radar.”

Opponents of a Thames Estuary airport protesting outside City Hall in London when Mr Johnson was London mayor
Opponents of a Thames Estuary airport protesting outside City Hall in London when Mr Johnson was London mayor

The Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst revealed last month that she had sought and secured a commitment from Mr Johnson that he would not be trying to resurrect his airport plan. She said:

"I welcome his commitment, and hope that this will finally lift the blight felt by residents, from the threat which has hung over us for years."

Similar assurances were secured from Mr Johnson by the Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch.

Boris Johnson in Dover before the recent Conservative leadership hustings event in Maidstone
Boris Johnson in Dover before the recent Conservative leadership hustings event in Maidstone

Mr Johnson has made no secret of his opposition to plans for a third runway at Heathrow, which is in his constituency.

It was claimed last week that when Mayor of London, Mr Johnson had refused to publish the results of a study he commissioned which comprehensively concluded the idea of an estuary airport was not viable.

The government's own aviation review, the Davies Commission, also ruled out the idea.

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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