Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Airlines '90% against new Thames Estuary airport'

Thames Estuary
The plan would see planes flying over the Thames Estuary

Nine out of 10 airlines using Heathrow Airport are opposed to Boris Johnson's plans to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary, a council has claimed.

The Mayor of London has given his backing to a scheme, thought to cost £40bn, to use an island off the south-east coast for a six-runway airport.

But Medway Council in Kent says 90% of airlines including British Airways, Air France and Virgin Atlantic are opposed.

A spokesman for the mayor said they would consider the findings.

The council is due to present a report to City Hall outlining their proposals.

Among concerns raised by the Board of Airline Representatives UK (BAR UK), which represents 78 of the 90 airlines flying from the country, are:

  • A higher chance of bird strikes due to large wildlife colonies in the estuary
  • Unemployment caused at Heathrow by the arrival of a large competitor
  • The reported cost to the public purse - while another runway at Heathrow would be privately funded

Medway Council's leader Rodney Chambers said: "We are meeting London's Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse to tell him that not only do the people of Medway and Kent not want this airport, neither does anyone else.

"I have continuously said that the Mayor of London's estuary airport plan is pie in the sky."

Someone needs to tell Boris that he is only the Mayor of London - not the Lord of Kent
Tony Goulden, Medway Council

Independent councillor Tony Goulden said: "It is difficult to understand Boris' obsession with this monstrous pile of sand, cement and tarmac that he wants to dump off the shore.

"Someone needs to tell Boris that he is only the Mayor of London - not the Lord of Kent."

A spokesman for the BAR UK said: "BAR UK and its members do not support such an airport.

"The reasons are many and various."

British Airways confirmed its opposition.

But City Hall officials have said previously an estuary airport could be built entirely with private funding.

Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers was angered by the meeting

There has also been speculation that Chinese investors and Arab sheiks are waiting in the wings.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "The Mayor's deputy, Kit Malthouse, will be reviewing the representations from Medway Council as part of his work to oversee further study on the use of the estuary.

"A holistic approach is needed when looking at any future use of the estuary.

"Issues such as the environment and ecology, regeneration, road and rail links, shipping and ports, aviation and the effects, if any, on the local residents will all be considered together."

A spokeswoman for the Heathrow No To Third Runway Action Group could not be contacted for a comment.

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