Plans for new London airport on 'Boris Island' rejected

Tuesday 02 September 2014 16.28
A new airport in the Thames Estuary, nicknamed Boris Island did not make the shortlist
A new airport in the Thames Estuary, nicknamed Boris Island did not make the shortlist

A plan to build a major new airport to the east of London has been rejected by a government-appointed commission.

The decision dealt a blow to its high-profile backer, the city's mayor Boris Johnson.

The Airports Commission said the idea to build a new airport in the Thames Estuary, nicknamed Boris Island, had not made the shortlist of options it is considering to expand the UK’s runway capacity.

It will now make a final recommendation by summer 2015 from three remaining options, including two plans to expand Heathrow Airport and one to expand Gatwick Airport. 

Mr Johnson accused the commission of setting the debate on aviation expansion back by half a century.

Mr Johnson spoke of his disappointment ahead of the news being made official, but said he will press ahead with his plans and added that he remains confident his scheme will eventually come to fruition.

"In one myopic stroke the Airports Commission has set the debate back by half a century and consigned their work to the long list of vertically filed reports on aviation expansion that are gathering dust on a shelf in Whitehall," he said.

Headed by former Financial Services Authority chief Sir Howard Davies, the commission is due to make its final report to ministers in summer 2015 - after the general election.

Mr Johnson's chief aviation adviser Daniel Moylan said yesterday that not short-listing the estuary option would be "a sadly short-sighted decision but far from the end of the process".

He went on: "Airports policy has been stalled for nearly five decades, ricocheting like a billiard ball between Heathrow and Gatwick.

"We have one opportunity to break out of that but it seems the commission has taken us back to the same old, failed choice. But the final decision will lie with the Government and a key question now is whether the commission will play much of a role in that."