Transport Airports

London’s Boris Island airport still isn’t floating with leading politicians

Nov 13, 2012 12:27 am

Skift Take

The longer the third-runway drama at Heathrow drags on the more likely cheeky suggestions like Amsterdam’s offer to take the airport’s excess takeoffs and landings will start to make complete sense.

— Jason Clampet

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Boris Johnson’s proposed airport in the Thames estuary faces high levels of opposition among MPs, according to a new poll.

The proposed airport, designed by Sir Norman Foster and nicknamed ‘Boris Island’, could provide four new runways to meet demand for extra air capacity in the capital.

But only 16 per cent of MPs support the plans, according to polling by Ipsos Mori. Some 59 per cent opposed the plans, of whom 35 per cent – more than a third – said they were ‘strongly opposed’. Eleven per cent of the MPs questioned refused to give their view.

According to research released in September, the airport could be built within 14 years, only two years longer than would be needed to build a third runway at Heathrow.

Mr Johnson has said said that with “political will” the airport could be built in six years with the costs in part met by private finance.

But the expansion of Heathrow is the most popular option amongst MPs, supported by 46 per cent.

Some 42 per cent support the building of additional runways at Gatwick, and 39 per cent support building at Stansted.

Expanding Heathrow is most popular with Labour MPs, with 50 per cent supporting it, against 47 per cent of Tories.

In September Daniel Moylan was appointed by the Mayor of London to make the case for the new hub airport.

This followed claims by British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh that the project would fail because airlines would not use it.

He said: “The only way you’d make it financially successful is say you’re going to build it and, as part of that, you’re going to close Heathrow”

Mr Walsh confirmed that British Airways would not move to the Thames estuary airport unless Heathrow was closed by the Government.

The cost of the project has been put at £50bn, of which £20bn would be for the airport and the rest for related infrastructure.

Carl Phillips, a director at Ipsos MORI said: “The idea of a ‘London Gateway Airport ’ (Boris Island) has been disregarded by the majority of MPs. Clearly the Mayor has his work cut out for him if he wants to win support for a new airport.

“Meanwhile, the option of expanding Heathrow Airport sees MPs polarised, especially across the Conservative benches.

“By contrast, while the idea of building additional runways at Gatwick and/or Stansted attracts a comparatively strong level of support across the House, but there is no majority view.”

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