Mr Johnson, previously a staunch advocate of building a new airport in the Thames estuary, has now decided to hedge his bets a little in his recommendations to the Davies review of future airport capacity requirements.
He has decided to put forward three options: enlarging Stansted; building a new airport on the Isle of Grain in north Kent; or building an island airport in the Thames estuary, Hong Kong-style.
Detailed proposals for all three sites, which have been worked up by Transport for London and subjected to peer review, will be submitted to the Davies Commission later in the week, he said.
Heathrow, meanwhile, could be pulled down and redeveloped to provide housing for up to a quarter of a million people, he said.
Mr Johnson said: “Ambitious cities all over the world are already stealing a march on us and putting themselves in a position to eat London’s breakfast, lunch and dinner by constructing mega airports that plug them directly into the global supply chains that we need to be part of. Those cities have moved heaven and earth to locate their airports away from their major centres of population, in areas where they have been able to build airports with four runways or more. For London and the wider UK to remain competitive we have to build an airport capable of emulating that scale of growth. Anyone who believes there would be the space to do that at Heathrow, which already blights the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners, is quite simply crackers.”
Daniel Moylan, the Mayor of London’s adviser on aviation, said: “Heathrow can never solve our problems and our studies show that we’re better off with a new site. The immense noise, pollution and congestion that would result from expanding an airport located in the heart of our suburbs would potentially devastate the greatest city in the world. Whereas the three potential sites for a new hub airport portray a compelling vision for the infrastructure, the economy and the international competitiveness that London and the wider UK could benefit from if we take the clear opportunities that are in front of us. A new airport would be accompanied by world-class public transport connectivity, it would have the resilience to withstand the worst the UK’s weather has to offer; and it would have the capacity to save you from being stranded in a never ending spiral of aircraft over the suburbs."
John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, welcomed the Mayor’s proposals for a new hub airport: “Heathrow has not provided the global connectivity we need to drive growth and jobs in the eastern region and we support calls for a new four runway airport with good surface access in order to ensure the greater international connectivity we need to meet the demands of our growing economic standing. This would also enable local business to reach important new markets in countries like China which is crucial to the future international success of the area.”