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Page last updated at 08:41 GMT, Wednesday, 18 January 2012

'The time is now' for London airport expansion


The government is to hold a formal consultation on plans for a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

Speaking to the Today programme's James Naughtie, Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, welcomed the consultation but urged the government not to "rule out any option" as building this airport would be "very long and expensive" and even if it is agreed upon it is still "decades away" and "we need extra runway space today" - referring to the option of building a third runway at Heathrow.

He went on to say that those proposing this airport should "talk to big airlines about whether project is affordable" but was "pleased there's an acknowledgement that it matters for jobs and growth in the economy"

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that he "understand the logic" of alleviating pressure for runway space so that Britain is not being "badly left behind" and that we "can't go expecting Britain to compete with France and Germany" without being able to supply flights.

He denied that the process of building could take decades and "political will and energy" would make it possible to have a fast turnaround.

However, the mayor warned that the difficulty would "not be in financing the airport but in the infrastructure between airport and central London" but that "now is the time to scope this out".

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