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Thames Estuary airport plan blasted as 'bonkers'

London mayor Boris Johnson’s island airport plan was blasted today by an expert as “stark raving bonkers”.

Architect David Nixon, who can count among former clients NASA, the European Space Agency, British Aerospace and the lead US center for robotic exploration of the solar system the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said those putting forward the plan had their own “agenda” and that London didn’t need another airport.

The latest plans for the Thames Hub, a £50bn integrated airport, rail, power, flood defence and communications vision for the Thames Estuary, were revealed in November by a consortium led by consultant Halcrow and architect Foster & Partners.

“It’s an absolutely stark raving bonkers of an idea,” said Nixon. “London has five airports and if they were properly planned and operated there would be no need for it,” he said, adding that it was important to conserve remaining green spaces to maintain the quality of life for Londoners.

Nixon was speaking at a lecture From earth to water: the sustainability of floating habitats at the Ecobuild exhibition being hosted at London Dockland’s Excel Centre.

He is a keen advocate of floating dwellings and argued that large infrastructure projects could in theory work as floating projects - but that building the Thames Estuary airport project as a floating structure was a “non starter”. Authorities in San Diego have already looked at creating a floating airport but abandoned the idea due to the huge costs.

Nixon’s comments came a day after chancellor George Osborne said it was time to “confront” the lack of airport capacity in south east England and committed transport secretary Justine Greening to setting out options later this summer.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Why on earth would you want to build a floating city or airport ?. I'lm sure it would be more economically viable for land reclamation as successfully executed in the UAE for living space & Hong Kong for Chek Lap Kok Airport.
    The idea of building a further airport on the Thames estuary is a splendid idea but I feel it wouldn't go down well with the local inhabitants of Kent or Essex. I've flown in and out of Heathrow /Gatwick on numerous occasions & for the first time this year I had to stay in a local hotel in Houndslow overnight for an early flight the following morning.....who the hell would what to live there under that flight path?
    A further airport would be better suited offshore on an artificial island say 15Km from Brighton with a High Speed Train link by tunnel or Bridge out of everybody's backyard !

    Danny O'Keeffe
    Civil Engineer
    Saudi Aramco
    Riyadh

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  • Nixon contradicts himself when he claims that the estuary airport proposal is bonkers and then goes on to say that it's important to preserve remaining green spaces to maintain the quality of life for Londoners. Surely moving the main hub out of the London area will improve the quality of life for people in that area. The only people supporting expansion at Heathrow are those with vested interests.
    I long gave up on long haul commutes from Heathrow because of its location and poor transport connections. It's easier and quicker to fly from Manchester to Schiphol and on from there.
    Roger Colton
    North Wales

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  • I don't think its bonkers, we need to have bold visions for important national infrastucture. Tacking on a bit here and bit there won't solve the big challenges.

    Look at Dubai, they have built themselves an airport infrastructure that make it a hub of the region, same for Singapore. The UK could be a european equivalent. As the balance of economic power shifts towards asia companies may think where to base their operations in Europe. The UK already has advantages that make it favourable to foreign business such as English, regulation etc, but it must also have competitive infrastructure.

    I think there is some logic in flights from the east arriving at an airport to to the east of london, and having a direct link into high speed rail is important too. If the esturary airport offers the best route and best prices and people can get there quickly and easily, it will be a success.

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  • Your article quotes David Nixon as saying "... building the Thames Estuary airport project as a floating structure was a “non starter”". I absolutely agree, but was totally unaware that anyone had actually suggested doing so - as opposed to constructing an island - apart, perhaps, for David Nixon himself ("... a keen advocate of floating dwellings and argued that large infrastructure projects could in theory work as floating projects ..."). Has it actually been proposed as a floating structure?

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  • Your article quotes David Nixon as saying "... building the Thames Estuary airport project as a floating structure was a “non starter”". I absolutely agree, but was totally unaware that anyone had actually suggested doing so - as opposed to constructing an island - apart, perhaps, for David Nixon himself ("... a keen advocate of floating dwellings and argued that large infrastructure projects could in theory work as floating projects ..."). Has it actually been proposed as a floating structure?

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  • David Nixon's remark about the hidden Agenda is certainly right. This propsal will certainly kill a fully developed infrastructure hub and take 50,000 employment from west London area to South East. The same Agenda of Margaret Thatcher for Maplin Airport.Third runway proposal will waiting time in holding area and provide better Passenger facilities. I dont think this will substantially increase number of flights.

    M.A.Raza

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