Plans for the Thames Estuary airport have been dealt another blow after three new reports said costs are likely to soar by billions of pounds above previous estimates.
The Airports Commission had ordered four feasibility studies of the airport, championed by London mayor Boris Johnson.
The first of these, which looked at environmental impacts and was published last week, indicated the costs of wildlife relocation costs alone may be £2bn.
The other three look at: surface access; socio-economic impacts; and operational feasibility and attitudes to moving to an estuary airport - dubbed “Boris Island”.
The reports suggest Johnson has considerably underestimated the infrastructure costs of an estuary airport and overestimated the benefits.
The transport access study by Jacobs said the bill for new road and rail links could be more than double previous predictions.
The Mayor’s 2013 estimate claimed road links would cost up to £10.1bn and rail links a further £13.5bn. The Jacobs report indicated these costs would leap to £17bn and £27bn respectively.
Leigh Fisher’s report on operational feasibility highlighted the risks posed by the wreck of a Second World War munitions ship 8km from the airport site. It said the SS Richard Montgomery, still holding 1,500t of TNT, may have to be made safe or removed.
PricewaterhouseCoopers examined socio-economic impacts. It said Heathrow would have to be closed for a new hub airport in the Thames to open, which could mean paying £21.5bn in compensation to the west London airport’s owners.
The feasibility studies can be viewed in full here.