Source: Daily Telegraph
By David Millward
Boris Johnson has called for a second runway to be built at Stansted as the gulf between the London Mayor and David Cameron widened on aviation.
Mr Johnson rounded on the Prime Minister and the Coalition which has refused to consider expanding Heathrow as well as vetoing proposals for new runways at Gatwick and Stansted.
Having earlier pushed for the building of a new airport in the Thames Estuary, Mr Johnson called for a second runway at Stansted to be built as a short term fix.
He also said that £14.8 billion Crossrail scheme, which will link the City to Heathrow, should be extended to Stansted.
“It would be a good interim solution,” he said. “A lot of money is now moving on to Stansted and the possibility of a high-speed rail link up there. You could be just as fast, if not faster, than at Heathrow.
”I think it is time that we looked at all the options around London because the Heathrow option is politically undeliverable and would be an environmental disaster.
“Increasingly people are thinking about Stansted as an option. You could get there quickly if Crossrail was extended.”
Expanding Stansted would provide capacity quickly ahead of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary, he added.
Mr Johnson has joined the course of senior business and aviation figures in attacking the Government’s aviation strategy.
On taking office the Coalition ruled out a third runway at Heathrow for the duration of the current Parliament along with runways at both Gatwick and Stansted.
But last year, in the Autumn Statement, the Government signalled it was willing to consider new runways at airports in the South East with the exception of Heathrow.
Mr Cameron’s hint at a possible u-turn on Heathrow was attacked by Mr Johnson, who accused the Prime Minister of “divide and rule” tactics. He added that the the Government had resolved to be “irresolute, adamant for drift.”
Having produced what it described as a “scoping document” last year, the Coalition is now preparing to unveil what it has called a “long term draft strategy document” at some point in the summer.
At the same time it will also unveil a “call for evidence” on whether and how Britain should maintain its hub status. BAA, which owns Heathrow, has been told it can put its case for a third runway, despite the Coalition agreement precluding its being built.
The Government’s formal aviation strategy is due to appear next spring, which in turn will go out for consultation.
But the aviation industry fears that the delays in providing additional capacity will see Britain falling behind its continental rivals in generating links to emerging markets such as China.
However a spokesman for BAA, which owns both Heathrow and Stansted, was sceptical about Mr Johnson’s plans.
‘’Stansted is a great airport with a superb record for punctuality. But building a new runway at Stansted will not solve the UK’s hub airport capacity crisis,” a spokesman said.
“Stansted has plenty of spare capacity already – airlines could relocate their operations from Heathrow to Stansted tomorrow and save millions of pounds in the process. All a second runway at Stansted would achieve would be to increase the amount of spare capacity there.’’