The Mayor of London has published a full statement on the publication of the Airports Commission’s Interim Report.
The report, published yesterday, left the Mayor’s preferred Estuary option off the shortlist, although it left the door open for adding it back into the mix for consideration should further work remove the significant uncertainty around the proposal.
One of the primary reasons was cost, with the Davies Commission estimating the cost of an Isle of Grain airport at £112bn.
The Mayor says his team do not recognise those cost figures, nor those attached to surface access improvements for Heathrow, which he regards as “woefully underestimated”. His statement says that £112 billion to build a four-runway hub airport is “far in excess of the costs experienced in many other countries that have completed similar projects”. He continues to contend that a new four-runway hub airport would cost no more than building two new runways at Heathrow.
The statement also says that the Davies report recognises “the importance of a hub airport to the economy”, although the report itself says that “the Commission does not
believe there is a binary choice between providing additional hub capacity or
additional point-to-point capacity. Instead, the optimal approach is to continue to
invest in an airport system that caters for a range of airline business models”. It seems that Davies has not entirely been convinced by the central importance of a hub – something which Heathrow and the Mayor do agree on.
The Mayor remains most focussed on noise. He said: “Howard Davies … has effectively told the Government it has two choices – proceed with the creation of a monstrous Heathrow, on a constrained site that won’t solve our capacity crisis, but would inflict untold misery on hundreds of thousands more Londoners through the din of many more jet engines in parts of the capital and home counties that have not so far experienced it; or proceed with the construction of a new hub in the inner estuary that can be built for the same cost as a four runway Heathrow, and would bring new jobs, homes, and long term competitiveness.”
The Mayor believes a new hub airport at the Isle of Grain would effectively solve the problem of airport noise, and support 388,000 jobs nationally by 2050. This is similar to the number of jobs that could be lost in the Thames Valley if Heathrow closes, according to recent reports, so might only produce a zero-sum game for the UK economy.
The Mayor of London’s Chief advisor on aviation, Daniel Moylan, said: “The clear conclusion is that the Commission recognises the importance of a hub airport, however we are now in the midst of a crucial battle to ensure it is in the right place.”
The Mayor has agreed that his team will work alongside the Davies Commission with a view, he says, to “providing further conclusive evidence that plans for an inner estuary airport should be taken forward”.