LONDON Nov 11 A new six-runway hub airport on
the Thames estuary to the east of London could be built within
seven years at a cost of $76 billion, said a consortium formed
by London Mayor Boris Johnson to address the capital's air
The British government and business groups want to expand
flights to fast-growing economies to ensure the UK can tap into
billions of pounds of trade opportunities. With Heathrow,
London's biggest airport, operating at 99 percent capacity, more
runways are needed.
The proposed new airport would sit on a purpose-built island
off the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, some 50 miles east of central
London, and would be known as London Britannia Airport, said the
Thames Estuary Research and Development (Testrad) consortium
formed by Johnson to study options for estuary airports.
The plan, to be launched on Monday at the House of Lords,
the upper house of parliament, comes two years after architect
Norman Foster unveiled proposals for a four-runway hub in the
Thames Estuary, backed by Johnson and dubbed "Boris Island".
Testrad said the new hub would have six runways and could be
built within seven years at a cost of 47.3 billion pounds,
without having to demolish houses or industrial infrastructure.
"This project avoids flying over densely populated areas of
London and the south east, removing completely the noise
contours and impact which have bedevilled millions of people
throughout and around London over the past 40 years," a Testrad
spokeswoman said, adding that Heathrow airport would likely have
to close to accommodate its plans.
Britain's Conservative-led government last year set up the
UK Airports Commission, chaired by Howard Davies, to look into
airport capacity in southern England. It is due to publish a
list of potential schemes by the end of this year with the final
report due after the 2015 general election.
Earlier this year bosses at Ferrovial's Heathrow,
Gatwick and Stansted airports urged the government to let them
build additional runways to solve the capacity shortage, plans
vigorously opposed by Johnson.
Johnson previously proposed a new four-runway hub should be
built either east of central London on the Isle of Grain or
further out in the Thames Estuary on an artificial island.