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Foster insists Estuary airport remains viable

Foster + Partners has declared itself “confident” that its ambitious design for a Thames Estuary airport will take a major step forward next month.

The architecture practice said it expected the Sir Howard Davies-led Airports Commission to shortlist an Inner Estuary proposal in September to solve the South East’s looming air capacity crisis.

A consultation closed on Friday on four feasibility studies published by the commission into the possibility of a hub airport in the Inner Estuary.

These reports indicated the costs of wildlife relocation costs may be £2bn; road and rail links could be £17bn and £27bn respectively; and £21.5bn might need to be paid to close Heathrow.

But Foster + Partners, which submitted a detailed Estuary airport proposal to the commission in May, insisted the feasibility studies did not make the plan unworkable.

“Commissioned to assess the credibility of an estuary airport, these studies found no showstoppers to the development of an Estuary airport, or any reasons to doubt the credibility of such a scheme,” it said in its response to the consultation.

Foster + Partners claimed there were some errors in the studies.

“The commission recognises the scale of the economic benefits from an Estuary airport, but notes that more detailed work is needed on several issues. In undertaking this further work, some inaccuracies in the commission’s studies, as well as key evidence that has not been considered, need to be addressed,” it said.

“As a result, the Thames Hub Team is confident that an Inner Thames Estuary airport location will now be formally added to the commission’s shortlist in September 2014.”

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