Estuary blues

Articles, New ProjectsEditor

The Mayor uses his column in The Telegraph to make one last push for an Estuary Airport in the Thames:

In the estuary there are some technical difficulties, sure: but TfL and our consultants are certain that neither fog nor birds nor the SS Montgomery present anything remotely approaching a deal-breaker to a country that used to have a reputation as the greatest engineering nation on earth.

Plenty of other countries have by now built very similar projects. This year for the first time Dubai is overtaking Heathrow as the world’s busiest airport, and about a third of that country’s GDP now comes from aviation. We need the scale and ambition to compete, and Heathrow is no answer.

This follows an earlier push by the Mayor (supported by a weighty policy document), highlighting the new jobs that the airport could create.

Why the push now?  Tomorrow, Sir Howard Davies is due to weigh in with his considered thinking on the airport saga - and likely rule in, or out, an Estuary Airport at that stage. In the last round, the estuary plan was very much a last minute addition. Has the Mayor done enough to keep it in play?

All of this should be considered with the Mayor's recent manoeuvres: he's thrown in an application to be the Tory candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Heathrow's home) and has bigger ambitions than the mayoralty right now. More than ever, this project is being framed as a key piece of his legacy, and of sticking to principle rather than following a route of political expediency.

One thing is certain - the UK needs greater airport capacity, and soon. We look forward to Sir Howard's announcement tomorrow and hope that it will lead to some political commitment - from across the aisles - for what is a crucial project.