So, Mayor of London Boris Johnson says that expanding Heathrow with a third runway would be “an environmental disaster.” It makes you wonder what he thinks building an airport in the middle of an environmentally important estuary (which impacts on a newly created wildlife area) might be?
“A third runway would be an environmental disaster. It would mean a huge increase in planes over London, and intolerable traffic and fumes in the west of the city – and it will not be built as long as I am mayor of London,” he said. On the other hand, he feels than his plans for a new island-based airport to to the east of London, dubbed ‘Boris Island‘ should be viewed as a pillar in the Government’s plan for economic growth.
Only a day before the Government announced its consultation on increasing airport capacity in the Budget, the Mayor of London had said, “Contrary to popular belief I am not the slightest bit wedded to some remote archipelago in the Thames estuary.” However, this was after he seemed to brief that the Government, including David Cameron, was behind the idea in January.
So Boris, what’s the difference? Surely the fact that there is an upcoming Mayorial election, and that west London is full of potential voters, while the inhabitants of the Thames Estuary are somewhat limited (and those in Kent and Essex doen’t count in the Mayor of London elections) has nothing to do with it!
From a business case, London may need more airport capacity, and John Stewart’s assertion that a third runway at Heathrow will not happen may be niave. But surely expanding an existing airport compared with building a new one, offshore and in the middle of an important area for both wildlife and shipping is the lesser of two evils?