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Sat September 25 2021

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London airport lobbying heats up

12 Nov 13 As the Airport Commissions prepares to publish its interim report next month, lobbying is intensifying over the various rival proposals.

How London Britannia Airport might look
How London Britannia Airport might look

Yesterday the Thames Estuary Research & Development Company (Testrad) presented details of its Boris Island proposal – a six-runway airport in the Thames Estuary backed by London mayor Boris Johnson. Testrad calls its proposal London Britannia Airport and has costed it at £47.3bn.

Meanwhile a different organisation is pushing hard for Heathrow to remain the country's number one airport.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said Heathrow should be turned into a new town and 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.

He said of Testrad's proposal: “This is further welcome argument in favour of the feasibility of having a new hub airport in the Thames estuary. With so many options available for a multi-runway hub airport in a new location, it would be folly for the Airports Commission to give countenance to the prospect of expanding Heathrow, the most noise-polluting airport in Europe.”

Testrad’s design work has been done by US technical consultancy Gensler, assisted by Royal HaskoningDHV, HR Wallingford and law firm Lawrence Graham. It also has Doug Oakervee on its team, the man who led the planning for Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport on a man-made island.

“In many respects this is the most ambitious of all the airport proposals, the least contentious, the easiest and the most cost effective solution,” said Gensler managing director Ian Mulcahey. “Our professional team have spent many months identifying the optimum location in the Estuary for the new airport. Unlike the historic Maplin Sands site and the Isle of Grain we have settled on a location that avoids the sensitive land adjacent to the Estuary and instead will create a new island,” Mr Mulcahey said.

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Testrad says that London Britannia Airport would take seven years to build once approvals are given and would benefit from at least £45bn generated by developing the Heathrow site.

Meanwhile the back page of the Sunday Times was purchased at great expense by lobbyists for an expanded Heathrow. The Heathrow Hub group advocates doubling Heathrow capacity by lengthening the two existing runways and then cutting them in half, lengthways, to create four runways out of two (as pictured below). It is claimed this could be done within five years.

Heathrow Hub is fronted by a retired economist and a retired pilot. However, the economist is Mark Bostock, who when a director of Arup was instrumental in getting the route of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link changed from going from via Bromley to via Ebbsfleet and Stratford. Heathrow Hub’s PR company also works for Balfour Beatty and Ferrovial.

Neither Testrad not Heathrow Hub has declared who is funding their activity.

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