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Johnson's Thames Estuary airport plan welcomed

London mayor candidate Boris Johnson's controversial view that the capital should build a new airport in the Thames Estuary should be seriously debated rather than derided, it was claimed this week.

The Conservative MP claimed that the government should forget a third runway and sixth terminal for Heathrow and build a new airport on man made islands in the Thames Estuary instead.

The government rejected the long-held proposal of a Thames Gateway airport on cost and environmental grounds in its 2005 Aviation White Paper.

Johnson's view, attracted scorn from supporters of expanding Heathrow and from environmental groups.

But reopening the debate was backed by the Thames Gateway London Partnership (TGLP), which represents 13 local authorities in the Thames Gateway.

"Clearly there would be advantages in terms of job creation and we would have to weigh that against other issues," said TGLP chief executive Eric Sorenson.

"A lot of infrastructure associated with a Thames Gateway airport would obviously be a good thing that improves connectivity in the area."

ICE transport panel chairman Alan Stilwell said projects such as improving links from the Thames Gateway to Stansted and Gatwick Airports might be a better use of public money.

"ICE strongly advises that expansion of UK airports should be considered as part of a wider integrated land use and transport strategy rather than as a single component of the transportation infrastructure."

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